His support for black colleges remains 'unwavering'

In a statement released after signing the government spending bill that deterred a government shutdown, Trump wrote that the HBCU funding program is an example of a program "that allocate benefits on the basis of race, ethnicity and gender".

When President Trump signed a federal funding measure Friday, he also released a statement questioning whether a funding source for the schools was constitutional.

One of the things suggested in the statement is that federally funding the Historically Black College and University Capital Financing Program, a program that helps finance construction projects on HBCUs around the country, is unconstitutional. The administration, the statement said, would "treat the provisions.in a manner consistent with the requirement to afford equal protection of the laws".

HBCU say they do not discriminate.

Because they are called HBCUs "suggests to some that the institutions are for blacks and not others, or that blacks are provided preferences at these institutions".

"It does not affect my unwavering support for HBCUs and their critical educational missions", BuzzFeed quoted Trump as saying. However, Thurgood Marshall College Fund president Johnny Taylor told BuzzFeed News that he had been given assurance that "no plan" to eliminate HBCU funding now existed.

"Sadly and shamefully, HBCUs, including the schools that President Trump met with, are left to wonder whether he wants to help or hurt them".

Taylor, who has been the most outspoken leader in the HBCU world advocating a close relationship with the Trump administration, said this latest development did not have him doubting the idea of working with the White House. But he said he was thinking of the substance of the message, which he was pleased by.

"For a president who pledged to reach out to African-Americans and other minorities, this statement is stunningly careless and divisive", the lawmakers said.

The administration - and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in particular - has been challenged by supporters of black colleges on whether they know enough about the institutions.

DeVos, a billionaire school-choice champion with no public education background, praised HBCUs in February as "real pioneers when it comes to school choice" - despite the schools having been founded during segregation in higher education.

Roughly a fifth of students and a fourth of faculty members at HBCUs are not black, advocates said. DeVos's first visit to a school in the United States as education secretary was to Howard University, an iconic historically black university.

  • Rogelio Becker