Last week, the US Department of Labor announced a $183 million initiative to pair community and four-year colleges with private corporations to better prepare the nation’s workforce. The partnerships will help educate and train future workers in healthcare, information technology, and manufacturing.
Of the 23 institutions and systems announced in the program, none of the primary colleges to receive funding were historically black institutions. That means that valuable training hubs in both metropolitan and rural areas where black folks live and work are left out of opportunities to help their cities and industries grow.
It is a confusing outcome for the Trump Administration, which has helped HBCUs to the forefront of some of the nation’s emerging industries like hemp research and manufacturing, cyber security and engineering, and transportation.
The Department of Labor cross-pollinating workforce development opportunities with the Department of Education and forgetting the HBCUs delivering the lion’s share of racial and economic diversity to most industries is more than heartbreaking.
It shows that even with the efforts of a friendly administration, HBCUs can be easily forgotten in initiatives that aren’t created within HBCU funding lines or political frames which scream “let’s get more black people involved here.”
Black colleges and black people will have a major role to play in 2020, and the best move for anyone courting our votes is to go beyond making black interests a greater part of American progress, but making American progress more accessible to black people.