Vice President Kamala Harris visited Hampton University on Friday (Sept. 10) to kick off the 2021 National HBCU Week, which is an extension of President Jimmy Carter’s 1980 initiative to federally pay tribute to the legacy of HBCUs. Harris is not only the country’s first woman and Black/Southeast Asian American vice president, she is also the first HBCU graduate elected to serve in the second highest political seat.
The 1986 Howard University graduate used the trip to Hampton’s campus to highlight the contributions of HBCUs and further explain how science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) have helped African Americans entering into the American workforce.
“HBCUs are not only competing but they’re leading,” Vice President Harris said. “If we are to invest in the strength of our nation we must invest in our HBCUs and Hampton University is one of the leaders, I say as a Howard graduate.”
Prior to her visit, Harris tweeted: “Today, extraordinary students at our nation’s HBCUs lead with the strength of purpose. They are at the forefront of scientific research. They are entrepreneurs. They are accomplished poets, musicians, and dancers. Students, we could not be more proud of you. Enjoy HBCU week.”
Last week, President Joe Biden signed a proclamation to acknowledge September 5-11, 2021 as National HBCU Week. Harris’ visit is one of a series of events planned for the government to engage with HBCUs.
The President also signed an executive order establishing the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Opportunity, and Excellence through HBCUs. It will create a government-wide approach to support the needs of HBCUs and the communities they serve and aim to eliminate systemic barriers to HBCU participation in federal programs, the proclamation states. In addition to the executive order, the Biden-Harris administration has proposed nearly $239 million in new institutional aid funding for HBCUs in the Department of Education budget for next year.
As an alumna of an HBCU, I am proud to celebrate HBCU Week. HBCUs have empowered and challenged students for generations, offering incredible opportunities to our future innovators and creating an important legacy of leadership in our country. pic.twitter.com/Vobg1Fcujb— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) September 10, 2021