White House hosts HBCU student journalists, discusses funding and resources for universities

Vice President Kamala Harris and Keisha Lance Bottoms met with student journalists from over 40 HBCUs for a White House Press Briefing.


Jordan D. Brown

Keisha Lance Bottoms and Vice President Kamala Harris during HBCU Student Journalists Press Briefing.

Jordan D. Brown, Editor in Chief

Hosting events that will bridge a connection between the White House and historically Black universities is a priority for the Biden-Harris administration.

An act of this effort was a White House press briefing on Thursday with over 40 HBCU student journalists, joined by former Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Student journalists questioned the duo with a variety of topics ranging from funding for HBCUs, support for HBCU students, student loan forgiveness, climate change and racial inequalities.

Bottoms, senior advisor for public engagement at the White House, said the Biden-Harris administration is dedicated to HBCUs with the establishment of committees focused on funding for the universities and creating opportunities like Thursday’s briefing. 

“President Biden and Vice President Harris have been very intentional in funding for HBCUs, very intentional and making sure that the voices of HBCUs are heard on this campus,” Bottoms said.

“There’s an entire committee that focuses on HBCUs,” Bottoms added, “we have someone from the administration [that] leads HBCU initiatives. so….the money has been given, the input is sought from HBCUs on how we can continue to be partners.”

Harris said the administration is focused on resolving student debt issues that many HBCU students and graduates face.

“The work that we have been doing, that has been focused on issues like student loan debt, because we know the disproportionate burden that our HBCU students carry on that issue,” Harris said. 

“And then, you know, there is the whole thing about the ecosystem around an HBCU student that also requires support.”

In addition to student loan forgiveness, Harris referenced her Wednesday visit to Bowie State University where she announced a new initiative to reduce the cost of homes and mortgage insurance that could directly help HBCU graduates.  

“There are many of our policies that relate to, for example, something I did yesterday at Bowie State, which was to announce what we are doing as an administration and to bring down the mortgage insurance premiums. So for FHA loans, so for loans that low income families can get to buy a home and bringing down the cost of that even further,” Harris said.  

Harris added the administration has several initiatives that will help the surrounding environment of HBCUs, like lowering the cost of insulin and focusing on climate justice.

Bottoms also spoke on the White House’s efforts to aid the historic underfunding of HBCUs and challenges within the financial aid department. Bottoms said she finds her son, who currently attends an HBCU, facing the same financial challenges she faced as a student at Florida A&M University.

“[The] President has talked about intentionality in certain programs at HBCUs and our traditionally found HBCUs to help create a pipeline…I think that it’s important for HBCUs with the group that the President has convened, it’s important that they communicate on how they are accessing dollars, how you access grant funding, how you are able to get into this pipeline of philanthropic support, etc,” Bottoms said.

With a mix of in-person and virtual participants, 42 HBCUs were represented at the press briefing:

  • Albany State University – Albany, GA
  • Allen University – Columbia, SC
  • Benedict College- Columbia, SC
  • Bennett College – Greensboro, NC
  • Bowie State University – Bowie, MD
  • Coppin State University– Baltimore, MD
  • Delaware State University – Dover, DE
  • Elizabeth City State University – Elizabeth City, NC
  • Florida A&M University – Tallahassee, FL
  • Florida Memorial University – Miami, FL 
  • Hampton University – Hampton, VA 
  • Harris Stowe State University – St. Louis, MO
  • Howard University- Washington, DC
  • Interdenominational Theological Center – Atlanta, GA
  • Jackson State University – Jackson, MS
  • Johnson C. Smith University – Charlotte, NC 
  • Langston University – Langston, OK
  • Lincoln University – Jefferson City, MO
  • Lincoln University – Lincoln University, PA 
  • Morehouse School of Medicine- Atlanta, GA
  • Morgan State University – Baltimore, MD
  • Miles College- Fairfield, AL
  • Norfolk State University – Norfolk, VA
  • North Carolina A&T State University – Greensboro, NC
  • North Carolina Central University – Durham, NC
  • Prairie View A&M University – Prairie View, TX
  • Rust College- Holly Springs, MS
  • Savannah State University – Savannah, GA
  • Shaw University – Raleigh, NC
  • South Carolina State University – Orangeburg, SC
  • Spelman College – Atlanta, GA
  • St. Augustine’s University – Raleigh, NC
  • Stillman College — Tuscaloosa, AL
  • Tougaloo College – Jackson, MS
  • Tuskegee University – Tuskegee, AL
  • University of Arkansas Pine Bluff – Pine Bluff, AR
  • University of the District of Columbia – Washington, DC
  • University of Maryland Eastern Shore- Princess Anne, MD
  • Wilberforce University- Wilberforce, OH
  • Wiley College – Marshall, TX
  • Winston-Salem State University – Winston-Salem, NC
  • University of the Virgin Islands – Charlotte Amalie West, VI

As Bottoms and Harris spoke to the journalists, Harris encouraged them to lead in their professions with an “incredible gift.”

“We are counting on you all as leaders and journalists to help us to continue to educate the people of our country and our world about who we are as Americans,” Harris said.