On Thursday, Donald Trump met with a number of Black Michigan legislators and leaders in Detroit to discuss White House support of African-American communities. During the sit-down, which he used to tout his claims of improving Black America, he also pondered an idea given to him by embattled Democratic lawmaker Karen Whitsett to found a “new” HBCU in the city of Detroit.

For those unfamiliar with the schools known collectively as historically Black colleges and universities, the U.S. Department of Education and the Higher Education Act of 1965, defines them as institutions of higher learning established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, whose principal mission was, and still remains, to educate Black students. Despite the designation, which is also found in the language for the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Whitsett appealed to Trump to establish one in the Motor City. Her request comes seven years after Lewis College of Business, an actual HBCU founded in Detroit in 1928, ceased operations

“I would love to see a historic Black college in the city of Detroit,” Whitsett can be heard saying in a clip posted to Twitter by The Hill. “I think that would be amazing and I think you’re just the president to be able to make that happen.”

Pondering the idea, Trump responds by saying that he finds the proposal “interesting.” “Maybe we can work something out,” he adds. “We’ll talk about that.”

Later in the conversation Trump revisits the idea with Whitsett saying, “I think your idea about historically Black colleges, universities coming here—one real good one—I think that’s a great idea.” He added, “With all you said, that really… That was an idea I hadn’t heard of. I don’t know if anyone has ever thought about that.” 

Excited by the prospect, Trump looks to John James, a Republican candidate for one of Michigan’s U.S. Senate seats, and says, “You want to start working on that please?” James answers with alacrity, “absolutely,” also stating that he believes a “new” HBCU in Detroit is “a great idea.”

Karen Whitsett who represents parts of Detroit asks Donald Trump to found new HBCU
Democratic lawmaker Karen Whitsett attends a meeting with Trump and other Black leaders and asks him if he can work on founding a “new” HBCU in the city of Detroit. (Photo: screengrab from The Hill)

According to M Live, Trump’s meeting with Michigan’s Black leaders preceded a visit to a Ford plant, where Trump refused to wear a mask in front of the press and praised its founder and known anti-Semite, Henry Ford, as having “good bloodlines.” It also comes as Whitsett seeks legal action against Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and other Michigan Democrats for censuring her following a public statement that she made on hydroxychloroquine. The District 9 representative said the drug, which has not been proved to help patients with COVID-19, saved her life. Democrats say her comments, which included praising Donald Trump for his leadership in reissuing the drug, were irresponsible.

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