Editor’s note: Historically Black Talladega College, located in Talladega, Ala., is being criticized for allowing its marching band to participate in President-elect Donald Trump’s inaugural parade set for Jan. 20. Many other college marching bands have refused to do so.
A no-brainer. March and show out while you are doing it, Talladega College.
I have read many opinions. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are struggling to survive. They are in strong need of government funds. All the HBCU presidents have been trying to get an audience with the president-elect to attempt to build a relationship that will lead to much-needed funds and survival. This is serious business.
Need the money
As a graduate of Talladega College’s Class of 1982, I give money to TC and understand that HBCUs need not make things worse with the government. There are thousands of current and future students in need of grants, scholarships and tuition to attend these colleges.
This is bigger than me, you, and all the flamethrowers who are against TC marching. I hate many of Trump’s comments too. But the man could be in office eight years. During this period, he could do all he can to assure many HBCUs close and all state funds routed to White colleges.
HBCUs are valuable educational institutions. These are not some entertainers or celebrity rich folk who can express their strong political views and go back to their millions. HBCUs are strongly dependent on government support. This is real. White colleges get government funds, too. We all are taxpayers.
Bigger than Trump
Let all the other loudmouths be loud. March and respect the office of the president. Give a great command performance. This is bigger than Trump. What needs to be done is make the strong case for the importance of HBCUs. You can’t do that by not engaging.
Are Black people going to avoid anything associated with Trump for eight years? That would be plain stupid. These are high-level negotiations. Should the Congressional Black Caucus never meet with Trump? Should the NAACP, SCLC, Urban League, etc. not engage Trump?
We do things all the time that we don’t necessarily agree with. For example, we don’t always agree with our bosses or our company. But we do the job, pick up that check and look forward to the day you can change things. You cannot negotiate anything without participating in the meeting.
I am no political poet not looking at the long view of the survival of these HBCUs. In short, organizations, companies and countries that depend heavily on federal and state support cannot afford to follow all political causes at their demise.
If I told you that TC could literally end up closing because they received no government dollars for eight years, would you seriously care if they marched in this parade that won’t even be thought about in four months? We’ve got to think bigger as a people.
Not HBCU fans
I know you love HBCUs. I do, too. This is no time to follow the crowd and call for Talladega College to stay home and become a political football. It’s not like HBCUs have never functioned in an environment where the presidents and governors were big fans. Let’s not fool ourselves.
There are Republican governors throughout the country ready to cut HBCUs out of their budgets. All they need HBCUs to do is give them a reason by attempting to embarrass their president. This is not selling out. This is self-preservation.
President Obama could have done more for HBCUs. If TC and HBCUs are to play politics, then play politics that favors them, not politics that’s against them. I am a proud graduate of TC and support them marching 100 percent.
Lee Pitts is host of the award-winning TV talk show “Lee Pitts Live” on FOX 4 in Fort Myers.