The War on HBCUs (Their inconvenient continued existence)


Historically Black Colleges and Universities; they only ever existed because America didn’t want black men and women to attend colleges (or any schools) with their children. Well before the end of slavery, the Institute for Colored Youth was founded in Cheney, PA in 1837. It later became the Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, recognized as the nation’s first HBCU. It was a Quaker philanthropist, Richard Humphreys, who bequeathed $10,000 to found the school to educate those of African descent. Specifically preparing them to carry the torch and become teachers. Lincoln University of Pennsylvania came along in 1854 and was the first degree-granting HBCU. Wilberforce in Ohio joined them in 1856 and was the first college run by African-Americans. Wilberforce, Ohio was a stop along the underground railroad. Its goal was to be an intellectual mecca and a refuge from ignorance.

The first wave of HBCU’s was founded by black churches along with the American Missionary Association (AMA). AMA spending during and after the Civil War far exceeded that of the government’s Freedmen’s Bureau who they worked with sometimes. Among the schools founded between 1865–1867, were Atlanta University, Fisk University, Hampton University, Dillard University, and Howard University. The 2nd Morill Act of 1890 forced states (mostly Southern) to provide land grants for black schools when admission was not allowed otherwise. In other words, states that refused to de-segregate had so set aside some space to educate black students and at least pretend they cared about black kids too. That Act is how we got Tuskeegee University, Alabama A&M Univerity, Florida A&M, Fort Valley State, Kentucky State University, Maryland Eastern-Shore, Alcorn State, North Carolina A&T, and Langston University among others. You could make the case that the purpose of the 2nd Morill Act was as much to preserve segregation as educate black students, there’s no question it did both.

With the exception of those who didn’t want black people to exist at all in this country, perhaps anywhere. Most white people didn’t mind the existence of HBCUs. Though there was that time that Wilberforce was destroyed by arson in 1865 (they rebuilt). There was also the time police shot and killed two student demonstrators at South Carolina State in February 1968. Say the names of Samuel Ephesians Hammond, Jr., Delano Herman Middleton, and Henry Ezekial Smith. The white students killed at Kent State are in the history books, the black students at Jackson State not so much. For the most part, however, black colleges tended to be left alone as long as they didn’t make too many waves. The power structure had another way to keep HBCUs in check… money.

Of the ten largest HBCUs by enrollment; nine are state schools including North Carolina A&T, Texas Southern, Florida A&M, Prarie View A&M, and Jackson State. These schools are generally dependant on their state legislatures to dole out funds. Always to a lesser degree than their white counterparts. Some are under pressure to merge with other state schools. Tennessee State University was forced by a judge into a shotgun wedding with another Nashville school; UT-Nashville, in 1979. Albany State University merged with Darton State College in 2017. Each case saw an HBCU merge with a predominantly white institution (PWI) with the thought the HBCU would maintain its name and identity. A new proposal would see Albany State, Savannah State, and Fort Valley State, all merged into one institution to be called Georgia A&M and run apart from the University of Georgia system. It sounds like… exactly like separate but equal and we all know how well that one worked.

Private schools have their own pressures, always seeking to raise the funds to stay in operation. Chief among their pressures is the need to stay accredited and thus able to receive federal and state funds and the students/parents eligible for Pell grants and student loans. As most HBCUs are located in the South. The vast majority are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools; one of six groups approved by the Dept. of Education (Betsy DeVos). One can only imagine what pressures the US Government might exert on its standards for accreditation.

Even when schools meet accreditation standards. There’s always the chance the government will fail to fund them anyway. Funding for HBCUs expired on October 1, 2019, and Congress appears to be in no hurry to restore it. Democrats want to go with a two-year fix while working on a comprehensive review while Republicans want to offer permanent funding as long as multiple measures affecting higher education are adopted. Both parties are playing chicken with HBCUs in the middle.

HBCUs have always been under attack whether physical or financial. More people are questioning the need for their continued existence, given we’ve overcome the racism of the past. A closer look would reveal that the racism of the past hasn’t disappeared, the names simply change. Slavery became the Black Codes, which became Jim Crow, which splintered off into multiple other forms of oppression with the one constant throughout being voter suppression. HBCUs have been affected by this with some campuses being split into different districts in order to dilute their voting strength.

HBCUs have always done more with less. In addition to their output measured in doctors, lawyers, teachers, and scientists. Black colleges produce black leaders. We just lost Elijah Cummings (Morgan State), Kamala Harris (Howard) is running for President, John Lewis (Fisk) is the conscience of the House of Representatives. For all I could name, there are hundreds more coming to take their place. Much more than flashy bands, athletic teams, and drum lines. HBCUs hone the minds of those that attend, graduating critical thinkers who know their own worth. The war will continue, but HBCUs are up to the battle. No weapon formed against them will prosper. And mostly, the graduates of HBCUs give back and come back. Never forgetting from whence they came and not forgetting those who come after.

Hello Followers.

I’m starting a new publication that may not relate to some of you but others may find it very relevant to their life experience. It’s called, “The HBCU Chronicles,” in which the stories will be somehow relevant to HBCUs. The story may involve a Historically Black College or former student. Some will be about that life which universally involved long registration lines, bad food, and professors that truly cared.

I’m also looking for writers/contributors because if you went to an HBCU. I’ll bet you have a story to tell. If you have something you’d like to add. Send me a note or email me at spiveywilliamf@gmail.com and I’ll add you as a writer. Thanks!

William Spivey

Should Donald Trump Receive a Pardon?


We know the Impeachment of Donald Trump is coming. That the House of Representatives will send multiple counts to the Senate for trial is a given. Whether Republicans are able to put Country before Party is another thing but despite the theory that if Trump survives Impeachment it allows him to declare himself a victor. The more likely outcome is that even if he’s not convicted by the Senate. American voters won’t want to put themselves through four more years of this perpetual madness. Once he’s out of office, he’ll be eligible to be prosecuted for his crimes and there’s a line forming of people waiting to charge him. The question is; should Trump receive a pardon as Nixon got? Allegedly to keep from tearing the country apart.

For those Ever-Trumper’s demanding to know what crimes he’s committed? The rest of the nation is sure he’s broken Federal Election laws and obstructed justice as well as violated the Logan and Hatch Acts. When his finances are finally revealed, we can add tax fraud, regular fraud, and money laundering to the list. There won’t be a question as to whether he and his family have broken the law. The question is; what are we willing to do about it?

When Nixon resigned in disgrace, President Gerald Ford pardoned him before charges could be brought in order to “spare the nation.” We’ll never be able to know how the nation would have responded had Nixon been jailed but America was pretty much in turmoil after he was pardoned. Ford discovered the voters held a grudge as he was beaten in the next election by a peanut farmer from Plains, GA. I’ve been to Plains and don’t suspect they’ll be producing any more Presidents anytime soon.

Yes, Trump’s base will be upset if he goes to jail. They’ll be upset if he doesn’t go to jail. They’d be upset if he managed to win re-election. When your constituency is glued together by rage, being upset is what they do. I’m less concerned about the Trump base than I am the next politician who wants to use the Office of the Presidency to enrich himself and his friends at the expense of the rest of us. It’s going to take enough to rebuild this nation as it is without a pissed-off Donald Trump on Twitter all day about how he was wronged.

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Donald Trump didn’t reach the highest office in the land with lofty aspirations to help the country and maintain high ethical standards. He was a crook when he arrived, surrounded himself with more crooks in his Cabinet and administration. It seems almost all of his political appointees were either crooks, white supremacists, or both. None of the people Trump pardoned went through the normal process of having been reviewed by the Office of the Pardon Attorney within the Justice Department. They were issued because someone knew someone or had a celebrity advocate like Kim Kardashian. Like every other American. Trump should have the opportunity to file for clemency. This usually takes place after someone has served a portion of their sentence and met all the guidelines.

I don’t want Trump to go to jail because I dislike him (although I do dislike him). Not because he’s a Republican (he’s not really a Republican although they are willing to follow him off a cliff). Not because he’s conservative (have you seen his deficits?). But because an example must be set. There’s a criminal right now thinking he can avoid a jail sentence if he can just get to be President and avoid prosecution. No, America doesn’t want to become a banana republic where politicians who lose or are ousted are thrown in prison. But America can no longer consider itself a nation of laws if its most visible citizen is above it.

America Has a Big Race Problem: It Can’t Acknowledge It Has One


Not only is America incapable of admitting to its race problems. It has developed a whole new language of discussing race in a kindler gentler way so as not to offend those who would prefer not to think of themselves as racist. America used to at least recognize it had a horrible history regarding race. That too is changing as history books in some cases refer to “immigrant labor” as opposed to slavery. Bill O’Reilly, a self-proclaimed historian, refers to how “well-fed” the slaves were that built the White House. Slavery itself is being rewritten as a mere labor arrangement where the “workers” were provided free housing, food, and health-care. America is finding it harder to admit it even had a race problem.

For those willing to concede America once “had” a race problem. They consider it a thing of the past. Solved by the Emancipation Proclamation, or Brown vs The Board of Education, or this Civil Rights Act or that Voting Rights Bill. America has never solved its race problem or rids itself of systemic racism. It has only given it different names. Slavery was replaced by “The Black Codes”, which was replaced by “Jim Crow” which was replaced by redistricting and gerrymandering and voter suppression.

History meanwhile has ignored or forgotten the most heinous acts committed against people of color. We all know about “Custer’s Last Stand”.How many know about the “Devil’s Punch Bowl” in Natchez, MS where 20,000 Black men, women, and children died. Imprisoned by Union troops in a concentration camp after the Civil War ended. History doesn’t mention “Black Wall Street” in Tulsa, Oklahoma where a thriving community was attacked on the ground and from the air. Over 35 blocks of property were burned and destroyed. Over 300 Black citizens killed and 800 hospitalized. 10,000 Black people were left homeless. Over 6,000 were arrested for up to 8 days. Despite the carnage, the official death toll was listed as “39” by the Oklahoma Bureau of Vital Statistics.

Orange County, Florida including Orlando, was claimed to have suffered the “largest mass shooting in American history” at the Pulse Nightclub shooting with 49 innocent people killed. As horrible as that was, it wasn’t even the worst mass shooting in the County as hundreds of Black people were killed and the rest of the Black population driven out of Ocoee, FL when some tried to vote in the 1920 Presidential Election. Ocoee stayed all-white for over 40 years afterward. America omits the inconvenient mass shootings in Elaine, Arkansas or E. St. Louis, Missouri or Mountain Meadows, Utah where Mormons dressed as Indians and killed 140 unarmed men and women. This is the history America doesn’t teach you when the victims are of color. It has redefined mass shootings to exclude more than a couple of shooters or apparently, race-motivated murder. It allows them to forget it had a race problem.

The problem that continues today stems from demographics. Those that wish to, “Make America Great Again” really mean to re-establish White control which is quickly fading. The reason they forcefully claimed “Barack Obama is the worst President in history” is not based on empirical data. They ignored the fact he saved an economy that was hemorrhaging jobs when he took office. He saved the auto industry. He served in grace despite the hate leveled against him. He established health care benefits for over 20 Million additional Americans. They conspired against him on his first day in office. For those who hate him, he has one inherent flaw. He is Black.

The secret to maintaining White control, even as White’s will soon be a minority in this country, is to control the vote. The tactics now closely resemble those used after reconstruction. Impose voter restrictions, enact poll taxes (although we now give them another name). Position polling places where it will be harder for some to vote than others. Provide limited access to minority voters hoping to dissuade them with long lines. America can deny the inherent racism in policies designed to disparately affect minorities; as long as we can claim it’s for another reason. We all know the almost non-existent voter fraud isn’t the real reason for these laws. What America can’t acknowledge is, that it’s all about race.

America has long not wanted to appear racist. Now I find that it no longer cares about keeping up the facade. Putting aside for a moment the racist background of President Donald J Trump, and his father Fred who was once arrested at a Klan rally. His Campaign CEO was Steve Bannon, former head of Breitbart News, who proved that racism has gone mainstream. That he is racist is beyond dispute. His personal comments and those he approved of in the media outlet he controlled; showed his hatred of Jews, Blacks, Hispanics, Catholics, Women and more. When Hillary Clinton discussed the specifics in a nationally televised speech, surely America would say this was too much. A man with his background cannot stand. After a couple of days of being a story, the storm faded as the media preferred to chase Trump’s evolving immigration policy and Hillary’s Emails. One Trump campaign manager was lambasted for an assault on a woman, another ousted because of his close ties to Putin. These apparently were terrible offenses. A racist heading up the Trump campaign, not a problem.

The list of things America won’t address because it can’t acknowledge its race problem is long. Unequal funding for schools. Disproportionate suspensions and expulsions of minority students. Voter suppression. Mass incarceration. Inequitable policing. The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America, you have a race problem and it’s time you acknowledge it.

Exactly How Many White Supremacists Are There In America?


I heard two different numbers the other day and started wondering if there’s a scientific method to determine exactly how many white supremacists there are in America. The first number was provided by a presumably white Internet associate (I wouldn’t go as far as calling him a friend) who I communicate with regularly on a purported legal blog which seems to attract quite a few white supremacists. He insists that the only people that qualify as white supremacists are card-carrying members of the Klan and nobody else. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) estimated in 2016 that there were 3,000 active members at that time. Therefore his number was 3,000.

A real-life black friend recalled hearing a speech given by the Rev. James M. Lawson who estimated the number at 50 million. For those who don’t know, Lawson played a pivotal role in organizing the Freedom Riders working with students primarily from Fisk University and Tennessee State including Diane Nash and Congressman John Lewis. Lawson was a serious activist during the civil rights era and has some credibility on the subject.

There’s quite a difference between 3,000 and 50 million so I wanted to consider ways to narrow the gap, assuming the true answer is somewhere in the middle. I considered that there are other organizations besides the Klan that would qualify as white supremacists. I went back to the SPLC and looked at their designated hate groups, this doesn’t make them white supremacists as these groups include al sorts of haters and all the groups are not mostly white.

I felt safe in including the American Freedom Party which “exists to represent the political interests of white Americans.” They also want to return America to, “White Rule.” I added the American Renaissance and the Aryan Brotherhood. The Brotherhood seems to be hard to enter and leave with their motto, “Blood in, blood out!” They’re mostly a prison gang but run gambling and prostitution rings. The “Brotherhood of Klans” (different than the Imperial Klans of America, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and Church of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan) has gone international and claims to have about 250 Canadian members who I’m not including in my total. Looking at the various Klan organizations alone, I was starting to suspect my associate may have misled me with that 3,000 number. It could also have been an honest mistake.

Working backward alphabetically there was; White Revolution, White Lives Matter, Vinlanders Social Club, VDARE, United Constitutional Patriots… By the time I got to the League of the South (they want to politically dominate black people and other minorities. I was ready to accept that the number of white supremacists affiliated with groups in the United States exceeded 500,000 as estimated by one source. Then I read something that was truly disturbing which was that most white supremacists don’t affiliate with organizations. It’s probably because of the dues.

Most white supremacists do not belong to organized hate groups, but rather participate in the white supremacist movement as unaffiliated individuals. Thus the size of the white supremacist movement is considerably greater than just the members of hate groups. Among white supremacist groups, gangs are becoming increasingly important. -ADL

That made sense to me, the average white supremacist isn’t marching down the streets anymore in his/her robe and hood. It’s your co-worker, your pharmacist, the bagger at your local grocery store… your minister. White supremacists look just like your white neighbor, and maybe your neighbor is one?

Instead of working from the bottom number and adding up. I wanted to look at the 50 million number and see if I needed to reduce it. I said to myself, white supremacists would likely do white supremacists things; like vote in their self-interest. In the past Presidential election. A white supremacist would likely have viewed it would be in their self-interest to vote for Donald Trump as opposed to Hillary Clinton. How many people voted for Trump? Just under 63 million people.

Now I am not suggesting that everyone that voted for Trump is a white supremacist. A lot of wealthy people who wanted to get a lot richer with his tax cut might have voted for Trump. Desperate coal miners and their families thinking Trump would put them back to work. Blacks for Trump? No that was just a couple guys with signs at his rallies. The point is that no good information could be gleaned by looking at Trump voters.

I went back to my hypothesis that white supremacists do white supremacist things. I looked at states where people voted to legalize voter suppression. Who wanted to ban Muslims? How many people were Birthers? Who thought “both sides” were to blame in Charlottesville?

I never got close to establishing an exact number of white supremacists in America. I’m positive that 3,000 was a terribly low estimate. I wish I could have proved the 50 million number was wrong beyond all doubt, but I couldn’t. Assuming Trump hasn’t gotten himself Impeached and is still the Republican Nominee, he may get 63 million votes again and all of them won’t be white supremacists. It will be true they don’t mind mingling with them, however.

The Process of Rebuilding America After Trump


Eventually, unless Trump declares himself President for life and Congress and the Supreme Court both refuse to act. There will be life after Trump, and the next President will have to pick up the pieces of what the Trump era has wrought.

Let’s use the State Department as an example. With the release of depositions taken by the combined House committees in the Impeachment inquiry. We find that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lied when he said his Senior Advisor Michael McKinley never informed him about concerns about attempts to oust the Ambassador to Ukraine; Marie Yovanovitch. McKinley resigned from the State Department, giving as his reason the Trump administration was using its Ambassadors to advance Trump’s political interests instead of stated American policy. America’s foreign policy in Ukraine was apparently being directed by Trump’s personal lawyer with no official role in government; Rudy Guiliani. That’s just one country without getting into US relations with Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Syria, China, and Turkey to name far more than a few where our foreign policy is either unclear or just not working.

The majority of the government is effectively rudderless as dozens of posts requiring Senate confirmation remain unfilled with “Acting” officials trying to lead Departments whose heads are not respected because they’re basically temp workers. Trump in many cases isn’t even trying to get people confirmed because he likes his people not only not to get too comfortable but to actually be fearful of Trump. He can get rid of them at a whim.

The one area Trump has been most effective throughout his tenure is deregulation. Today he weakened an Obama-era regulation that kept coal plants from dumping residue into our lakes, rivers, and streams. How is dumping coal ash into our drinking water a good thing? He’s made possible greater levels of air pollution, water pollution, and chemicals in our food.

The other area where he’s got his wishes although I wouldn’t describe it as being successful; is stacking the courts. In addition to his two Supreme Court picks, he’s done perhaps more damage (along with Mitch McConnell) in packing judges on the Federal bench. The Republican-controlled Senate has rubber-stamped the nominations of almost every nominee including some rated “Non-Qualified” by the American Bar Association. But the question being raised today is not just what has Trump done, it’s how do we fix it?”

The first step to rebuilding the government is staffing it. Unlike Trump’s transition team where Chris Christie the former Governor of New Jersey was unceremoniously dumped as its head. He was replaced by Mike Pence who seems to be denying any knowledge as to how selections were made. Particularly those like Michael Flynn who lasted all of 23 days, having to resign because of being an unofficial agent of Turkey and questionable ties to Russia.

The Trump administration has stopped communicating with America except via tweets or interviews on friendly networks like Fox News. The White House needs to resume daily news briefings and give honest responses to questions, even when it is bad news. After three years of Sean Spicer, the “Mooch”, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Kellyanne Conway, and a few others with no relationship to the truth. The next administration needs to be credible; not lying about things easily debunked like inauguration crowd size or whether or not any new wall is being built and who’s paying for it.

In the next Presidency; science should be viewed as if it were a real thing. Science-related departments like the Department of Agriculture have systematically replaced actual scientists with political cronies who owe their loyalty to the interest groups they used to work or lobby for. The official government position is to dispute climate change or accept it but it isn’t manmade, or acknowledge that but say there isn’t anything that can be done about it. The one thing they’re sure about is that corporations have no responsibility to stop ruining the environment and afterward have none to clean it up.

Besides these basic minimums; a wish list would include a functioning Congress that recognizes its role in providing a check and balance to the Executive Branch. One where the Senate actually votes on bills sent them from the House. One where “advise and consent” is taken seriously and we staff our government and the courts with the best of the best. Some non-partisanship from time to time would be a little nice where the interests of the nation take precedence over the Party line.

These few guidelines are just a starting point. Perhaps the whole notion of staffing much of the government with political appointees should be looked at? Eliminating nepotism would be helpful and be wary of anyone volunteering to work for the government without pay (Manafort, Jared, Ivanka). Nobody takes that kind of job without getting enriched somewhere.

Who Will Be The Vice-President Choice of the Democrat Nominee?


Each of the five leading candidates has different needs and therefore the answer to the question depends on the candidate. Some of the considerations typically in play are those that will give the nominee a balanced ticket. Someone who will help them reach particular voters they might otherwise have a hard time reaching. Once upon a time, geography was a critical factor and a running mate from the South might be helpful to a nominee from the Northeast. These days the swing states in the Midwest are considered crucial which might influence the pick. Let’s look at the current leading candidates and whom they might select?

#5 Kamala Harris

Kamala is currently languishing in 5th place after a brutal, seemingly coordinated attack against her that began once she took on Joe Biden during the first debate. She’ll need a breakout moment and a very strong finish in Iowa and victories in South Carolina and California to have a chance. She’s low on funds and it’s almost Hail Mary time in terms of winning the nomination. Should she win, however, who might give her balance and help her win a general election? Her choice would likely be male, neither Biden or Sanders are likely to agree to take the second spot. Booker would make the slate just a little too colorful. If she wins her choice will likely be Mayor Pete Buttigieg of Indiana.

#4 Pete Buttigieg

Mayor Pete is slowly but surely climbing up the polls, almost in striking distance of the three leaders; Biden, Warren, and Sanders. Buttigieg has youth in his favor, is articulate (they usually save that compliment for black people). Though he started out with very little name recognition, when people actually listen to him he typically makes a good impression.

While Sanders, Biden, and Warren, are all in their 70’s and might need to choose someone younger. He would run the risk of pointing to his youth as a negative by in effect bringing aboard a chaperone, pointing to one of his potential negatives. Because of local issues in South Bend involving the fatal shooting of a black man by a police officer. Pete needs help with black voters. His choice will be Kamala Harris.

#3 Bernie Sanders

Bernie’s choice of VP is extra critical seeing how he just had a heart attack. People have already been reminded the Vice-President is one heartbeat away from the Presidency with that incident. While by all accounts he gets along well with Elizabeth Warren, she’s almost the same age as he and they both appeal to the same general base of voters.

Sanders has struggled to attract black voters but is unlikely to choose Cory Booker or Kamala Harris. He needs to find someone seen as more conservative than he but pragmatic enough to accept his popular ideas. He’ll pick a woman for balance, but it will be Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota.

#2 Elizabeth Warren

Of the septuagenarians (people between 70–79) in the race, Elizabeth exudes energy and vitality. Still, her choice for VP will be someone more youthful, with a record of fighting for the consumer. They will have progressive bona fides yet be attractive to the mainstream Democrat voter.

Her choice will be male and although she could use some help with the black vote, it won’t be Cory Booker. She’ll be looking for someone to give a shot to her campaign and a shot at winning a state that will negate Trump possibly still winning Ohio or Wisconsin. Warren will pick Beto O’Rourke of Texas.

#1 Joe Biden

Biden more so than any of the others needs someone who can go on the attack. AssumingbTrump is still the 2020 Republican nominee given that Impeachment thing going on. Biden will face a blistering assault from Trump about Ukraine and any other topic he decides, truth notwithstanding.

Biden will need someone that can make the case that Trump is a criminal with the credentials to back it up. Politics make strange bedfellows and Biden will select the one voted least likely to be invited; Kamala Harris.

Feel free to disagree and post your VP picks and the reason you believe you’re right.