The Vice President’s trip to Hampton—founded in 1868 in Hampton, Virginia— will recognize the contributions of HBCUs. It will also highlight how people of color in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) have strengthened and can continue to build the American workforce.
“It is my pleasure to welcome U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris to `Our Home By the Sea’,” said Dr. William R. Harvey, the president of Hampton University. Dr. Harvey previously served as Chair of the President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs under the Obama Administration. “I would like to thank the White House for its acknowledgement of the importance of HBCU students and graduates.”
Harris, an alumna of Howard University, illustrates HBCU excellence. The attorney and former U.S. Senator from California made history as the nation’s first woman and Black/Southeast Asian American Vice President. Moreover, she is the first HBCU graduate elected to serve in the second highest office in the land.
According to the Vice President’s office, Harris will tour Hampton University’s Center for Atmospheric Sciences. Later, she will convene a roundtable discussion with Hampton students in STEM majors to discuss the value of HBCUs in training the next generation of professionals.
“HBCUs are not only competing but they’re leading,” the Vice President said. “If we are to invest in the strength of our nation we must invest in our HBCUs.”
The Vice President’s visit is timely. On September 3, President Joe Biden signed a proclamation to acknowledge September 5-11, 2021 as National HBCU Week. It encompasses a series of events and opportunities for federal agencies, private sector companies and philanthropic organizations to engage with HBCUs.
As a prelude to HBCU Week, the President also signed an executive order establishing the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Opportunity, and Excellence through HBCUs. It will create a government-wide approach to support the needs of HBCUs and the communities they serve and aim to eliminate systemic barriers to HBCU participation in federal programs. During HBCU week, Biden also named Tony Allen, President of Delaware State University, as Chair of the President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs.
On Thursday as part of HBCU week, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Cameron Webb hosted a roundtable discussion with student leaders about the work they are doing to vaccinate their communities. The scholars represented schools that included Florida A&M University, Norfolk State University, Tennessee State University, Fort Valley State University, Southern University at New Orleans and Bowie State University.
“HBCUs are engines of opportunity, social mobility, and economic prosperity for the students they serve,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in a statement. “Since their founding, these vital institutions have played a crucial role in educating students to lead thriving lives and in reversing long-standing inequities across systems in America.” He noted that “equity and excellence are in the institutional DNA” of HBCUs. “They serve students of color of all backgrounds from across the nation – including families and communities that historically have been furthest from opportunity and that most stand to benefit from education’s potential to bring the American Dream within reach.”