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Multiple areas of Howard University were found defaced on Tuesday morning, less than a day after the school’s president, Wayne A.I. Frederick, joined more than 100 other historically black college and university leaders to meet with President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
On a sidewalk in the campus’s main quadrangle, the Yard, a message in blue spray reads, “Welcome to the Trump plantation. Overseer: Wayne A.I. Frederick.”
So this is on Howard University's Yard this morning. pic.twitter.com/e8WGA4EPHq— italia calino (@Italia_calino) February 28, 2017
Other graffiti messages, also shared via Twitter, include the phrases, “Make HBCUs black again,” “Make Howard black again,” “Wayne Frederick doesn’t care about black people,” “HBCU initiative? Wayne coonin’ for Howard? Not on my watch!” and “Stay Woke.”
In today's episode of Howard University Shenanigans pic.twitter.com/W6aEMrc98H— Lauryn Kai (@1april_fools) February 28, 2017
On today's episode of Only @ Howard ...🌚🌚🌚 pic.twitter.com/pqkui0zHKh— Kiara Nelson (@_kiaranelson) February 28, 2017
The graffiti came the morning after Frederick met with Trump, DeVos, and other HBCU leaders for what was believed to be an opportunity for federal agencies and DeVos to hear about HBCUs. DeVos also met with Frederick and Howard student leaders earlier this month, but her presence on campus was not revealed until after the meeting. For the 2017 fiscal year, Howard University requested $221 million in federal funding, though a group of students protesting Trump has called for him to be barred from the campus and for federal funding from his administration to be rejected.
Students on Twitter are speculating the meaning behind the graffiti, which seems to imply that by partaking in Trump’s meeting, Federick is thereby endorsing his perceived politics.
@OnlyOnePablo @VonnGuapo__ y’all got it fucked up lol this is in response to HU meeting with Trump yesterday .
— Big Bando Baire (@YoungSethReezy) February 28, 2017
@Paula_Galloway Yup, they compromised their positions as soon as they entered the Oval Office for a photo op.
— Big Bando Baire (@YoungSethReezy) February 28, 2017
@Italia_calino honestly. This statement is pretty accurate. Devos visited and no one knows the terms agreed to for that funding.
— Fly 🕊 (@1xfly) February 28, 2017
Was prob done by HU students frustrated by the HBCU/Trump photo op. Using minorities to further his discriminatory agenda.— Elle L (@Elle3110) February 28, 2017
Hmm. Possibly done with ironic intent? Seems more like message of protest than racist vandalism. 🤷♂️— David M. (@HappyAsDavid) February 28, 2017
According to Dillard University president Walter M. Kimbrough, however, the meeting ended up becoming a photo opportunity that “threw the day off,” cutting down the time for HBCU presidents to speak. Kimbrough wrote in a Medium post that each speaker was only given one minute each, leaving eight of the 15 speakers without any time to have the floor.
Trump is expected to sign an executive order today regarding funding for HBCUs, which he ensured on the campaign trail he would do. After the meeting, DeVos released a statement saying that HBCUs are “real pioneers” on “school choice,” despite the fact that HBCUs could hardly be considered a “choice” of higher education pioneers, as they were born out of requirement because of segregation in schools.
A student group focused on reforming Howard and that has demanded Frederick decline the requested $221 million, Howard Resist, has denied any involvement in the vandalism.
Just for clarification: the spray paint and messages on Howard's campus were not an official action by HUResist.— ConcernedStudentsHU (@HUResist) February 28, 2017
Furthermore any future destruction of property in any form should not be attributed to HUResist— ConcernedStudentsHU (@HUResist) February 28, 2017
Howard University’s communications office did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Samantha Grasso is a former IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.