African American leadership highlighted on Capitol Hill

Published: Feb. 6, 2019 at 9:36 PM EST

Leaders of historically black colleges and universities from around the country came together in DC Wednesday. School officials met with African American lawmakers about celebrating the success of their students, while addressing challenges ahead. Our Washington Bureau’s Alana Austin reports on this summit from Capitol Hill.

Leaders here say HBCUs – short for historically black colleges and universities – mold America’s future teachers, military officers and business executives. Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina – who helped organize this bipartisan gathering during Black History Month – says there’s much to celebrate, but more work ahead.

“We’re really excited about the progress that we’ve made and frankly just underscoring the importance of HBCUs,” said Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC).

Presidents and chancellors of HBCUs from around the country attended Wednesday's panel discussion. Scott was joined by Democratic Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker. Leaders celebrated the ground-breaking achievements of black leaders in the room. Many here credited HBCUs – along with strong community bonds – with their success.

“It really showed how dedicated our legislators are how to our HBCUs,” said Marion Fedrick, Albany State University President.

Georgia’s Albany State University President Marion Fedrick says she appreciated the opportunity to work on ways to fortify schools often struggling with aging infrastructure, along with students confronting crushing debt. She’s uplifted by the ideas shared at this event.

“For me, that was very encouraging,” said Fedrick.

North Carolina Democratic Congressman G.K. Butterfield – a proud graduate of an HBCU – says he thinks Congress should continue boosting federal support for these schools.

“We must to do all we can to educate our colleagues on the value and importance of HBCUs and helping them stay strong and to continue,” said Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC).

Leaders here say they’re committed to strengthening those working relationships and engagement with more leaders on Capitol Hill.

Over the past year, Senators Scott and Booker noted additional funds moving forward for Pell grants and investments in economically-disadvantaged communities.