At Howard University Graduation, Sen. Kamala Harris Takes Aim at Trump Policies Affecting HBCUs

Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) gives the convocation oration at the Howard University commencement ceremony in Washington. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) gives the convocation oration at the Howard University commencement ceremony in Washington. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

At Howard University, a school known for its activism and commitment to social justice, Sen. Kamala D. Harris implored graduates at Saturday’s commencement to fight the policies of the Trump administration.

“You are graduating into a very different time than it was when you arrived a few short years ago,” said Harris (D-Calif.), a graduate of Howard. “We have a fight ahead. It’s a fight to determine what kind of country we will be. And it’s a fight to determine whether we are willing to stand up for our deepest values.”

Harris’s remarks at the historically black college in the District tapped into the political discord the Trump administration has sown through its controversial decisions, including directing prosecutors to pursue mandatory minimum prison sentences , a hard-line approach that has kept thousands of African American men behind bars. Her address also served as a bulwark against the uncertainty President Trump created by his wavering support for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) like Howard.

“When voices at the highest level of our government seem confused about the significance and even the constitutionality of supporting HBCUs, I say look over here at Howard University,” Harris said. “We need you. Our country needs you. The world needs you.”

During this year’s graduation season, commencement speeches have been particularly political, mirroring stark divisions across the country. Trump himself spoke to graduates at Liberty University, a Christian school in Lynchburg, Va., on Saturday, telling them to “challenge entrenched interests.”

HBCUs have had a fraught relationship with the Trump administration. University leaders headed to the White House earlier this year with the hope of increased funding and aid for students, but many were disappointed when the president’s budget did not include any of their requests.

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SOURCE: Danielle Douglas-Gabriel 
The Washington Post