Biden HBCU advisory board strikes balance between labor and limelight
Former Spelman College President Beverly Daniel Tatum had asked a legitimate question of the group of advisors assembled for its regular meeting with the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. It was one of her first meetings as a member of the committee charged with informing the White House on how to best engage with and support the community of Black institutions which, at the time and unbeknownst to them, would soon face a significant financial crisis under the Obama administration.
“When do we get to meet with the president?” Tatum asked her fellow advisors.
“Never,” said Dianne Boardley Suber, then president of Saint Augustine’s University.
The room laughed. All assembled knew that Suber’s comment was jokingly submitted but soberly serious in its gravity. The board never met with the president because that wasn’t its design. The White House Initiative never really reported to the president because the perennial hope is that it will be mostly performative in supporting Department of Education initiatives rather than a coalition of Capitol Hill table shakers.