President Barack Obama has declared this National Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week to recognize the significance of HBCUs and to honor the contributions they make in educating blacks in America.
The White House kicked off the commemoration with a two-day conference featuring appearances and speeches by several senior officials. Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett gave opening keynote remarks on “HBCUs: Engaging the World Anew.” At today’s luncheon, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was to discuss the role that HBCUs play in helping to meet the president’s national goal of once again leading the world in college completion by 2020.
Participants engaged in panel discussions, breakout sessions and listened to speeches covering a variety of topics “including international affairs, honors programs, minority presence in the workforce, technology and innovation, working with small businesses, and developing partnerships,” according to a White House press release about the event.
Currently, HBCUs, many of which were started when blacks were not allowed to attend college with whites, confer 3,031 degrees each year.