People are outraged that Betsy DeVos seems to be glossing over the history of racially segregated education

Donald Trump met with leading figures from some Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the United States on Monday, and education secretary Betsy DeVos released a statement to mark the occasion that is really getting everyone talking.

In the press release, DeVos says that the HBCUs “started from the fact that there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education”. For many, this seems like a particularly light way of describing the history of HBCUs.

HBCUs were set up after the Civil War, during a time when people of colour were banned from applying to many white universities. HBCUs aimed to help open up education to a wider group of Americans at a time when there were huge barriers in front of them. As such, many people are taking issue with the idea that HBCUs were set up to help “school choice” but many say segregation meant that there was no choice in the matter.

Many are outraged at the claim that the Jim Crow education system gave black students “more options” – when in fact it was the only option open to black students in a segregated education system.

DeVos’s statement has caused widespread uproar. Many people are thinking the same thing: DeVos has somehow managed to gloss over the whole racial segregation issue.

In fact, many see it as a gross misjudgement of history.

It’s a particularly hot topic at the moment as Trump is set to sign an executive order on HBCUs this week, and today DeVos is giving the keynote address at a HBCU event.


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