Trump Appoints Unqualified HBCU Chief ... Then Skips Town

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

White America’s president furthered his anti-black agenda Monday when Donald Trump selected an untrained, ill-equipped executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and then skipped town before HBCU presidents could ask him what the hell he was doing.


Continuing the Trumpster Fire regime’s policy of selecting appointees to positions for which they have no experience or education, Safety-Vest Stalin selected Johnathan Holifield to lead the HBCU initiative, even though Holifield has never attended an HBCU. He has no formal training in higher education; nor has he ever been employed by an HBCU ... or any college or university, for that matter.

NBC reports that Holifield, a former NFL and tech entrepreneur, will start the job Oct. 2 and will be introduced to HBCU presidents at a White House event that Trump will not attend, because some HBCU presidents have announced they will boycott the summit, while others plan to air their grievances with the president. And also because he’s Donald Trump.

Holifield’s only qualification seems to be that he’s black, which is akin to appointing Betsy DeVos as secretary of education even though she has no experience in education (except destroying public schools in Michigan), choosing Rick Perry to head the Department of Energy (even though he said he wanted to eliminate the department), and having Ben Carson lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development. To be fair, Carson has actually lived in a house. Plus, he’s black, which apparently fills the “urban” requirement.

(In a separate, untelevised event, the following Trump-administration officials also received awards for their incompetence: former Exxon CEO Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Treasury Secretary and IndyMac Bank bankrupter Steve Mnuchin, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions—who wouldn’t know justice if it showed up at his door wearing a name tag that said, “Hello, my name is Justice.”)

Instead of harping on Holifield’s lack of qualifications, experience, ability or expertise, I offer a quick list of the ways Trump has undermined education for minorities:

  • Moved the White House HBCU initiative out of the Department of Education and into the executive branch to personally oversee the destruction of HBCUs;
  • Appointed a secretary of education, DeVos, who ignored the history of segregation and instead said that HBCUs were founded on the principles of “school choice”;
  • Hired a deputy assistant secretary in the Education Department’s Civil Rights Division, Candice Jackson, who accused programs that tutored black students of discriminating against whites;
  • Suggested that HBCU funding may be unconstitutional;
  • Opened a Justice Department investigation on affirmative action policies that discriminate against whites;
  • And, perhaps worst of all, invited HBCU presidents to the White House for a meaningless photo op while Kellyanne Conway sat on the couch with no shoes on!

The White House has already scrapped an event scheduled for Monday because it was afraid of protesters. The summit honoring HBCUs was supposed to take place at a Washington, D.C., hotel but was moved to the White House, where only people who agree to undergo background checks can attend.


Inside Higher Ed reports that Holifield’s selection to the position has left many people inside higher education skeptical, including Marybeth Gasman, director of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions.

“I don’t see Trump caring about HBCUs, as he has demonstrated this lack of care,” she said. Former president of Bennett College Julianne Malveaux praised the new HBCU chief’s business credentials but noted that there are lots of businesspeople who have more experience in the education sector than Holifield.


“The 45th president has done little to earn the trust of the HBCU community; this appointment does not engender trust but instead suggests a ‘Wait, see and hope for the best’ attitude,” Malveaux said.

Indeed, we shall. What else are we supposed to do?

When asked to comment on his new appointee, Trump did not say, “Sure, he’s never worked at or attended an HBCU. But he’s black, right? Plus, I’m one of the most unqualified presidents in history, so how bad could it be?”


Requesting anonymity, a former HBCU leader reflected the persistent cynicism and skepticism about the Trump administration’s resource-free approach to HBCUs by telling The Root: “I was a little disappointed with the Holifield appointment because I thought Mr. Trump was far more ambitious. A few months ago, after recognizing his great work and his growing recognition, I felt certain that President Trump was foreshadowing to us all his intention to go bold and appoint Frederick Douglass to the role!”

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Clearly, all the HBCU presidents meeting with 45* was worth it.