Howard University announced today that it was appointing ex-FBI Chief James Comey as this year’s opening convocation keynote speaker and the 2017-2018 Gwendolyn S. and Colbert I. King endowed chair in public policy.
Comey, a former federal prosecutor and FBI head until he was humiliatingly fired by President Donald Trump in May, will kick off the school year with an address to the university formally welcoming the Class of 2021 during the Sept. 22 convocation event.
“I am pleased to welcome Mr. Comey to Howard,” said Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick. “His expertise and understanding of the challenges we continue to face today will go a long way in sparking rich discussion and advancing meaningful debates across campus.”
As King chair, Comey will lead and conduct five lectures featuring speakers that will touch on several topics to be determined after consultations with student leaders and other campus stakeholders.
(I hope one of those stakeholders will take him to task about his public stance on the so-called “Ferguson effect,” giving credence to the theory that violent crime was on the rise in the U.S. because of more scrutiny on the police in light of protests. Also, Comey has been rather blunt in speaking out about “endemic racism” as top cop, but he seemed to give law enforcement a pass, although their bias and racism can obviously end lives. Students should ask him about that, too.)
Howard stated that Comey will be donating his entire King-chair compensation of $100,000 to a Howard University scholarship fund for students from foster care.
“I am honored to hold the King chair this school year. Howard has a long-standing history of being a vibrant academic community and the perfect place to have rich dialogue on many of the most pressing issues we face today,” said Comey. “I look forward to contributing to this remarkable institution and engaging students and faculty alike.”
So this is interesting. Howard is the only HBCU that is private but receives hundreds of millions in funds from the federal government. Because it is in Washington, D.C., it has historically tried to remain bipartisan and reach out to those from both sides of the aisle—though it doesn’t always work out well (see: the meeting with Education Secretary Betsey DeVos in February, or back in the late ’80s when students took over the school demanding that Republican National Committee Chair Lee Atwater resign from its trustee board.)
In this case, one of Howard’s more famous alums, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, seems excited by the announcement, tweeting, “Wow.”
And if you think about it, this Howard-Comey collabo makes perfect sense because ... Trump.
Donald Trump is clearly persona non grata on the esteemed HBCU’s campus, and Comey is clearly disgusted by 45 after he pulled that crazy loyalty-litmus-test stunt and fired him when he didn’t go along.
So with Trump, HU and Comey clearly have “something in common,” as Bobby and Whitney once sang.