New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker started a spirited conversation this week after his commentary about historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) during his town hall on CNN. The Democratic presidential hopeful, who is one of three Black people seeking the White House, was asked about his plan to protect HBCUs.
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Booker, looking at ease and smiling broadly at the question, unleashed a spiel about his family’s personal connection to HBCUs (both parents and grandparents are alumni) and how he would prioritize Black colleges if he gets elected president.
The audience in South Carolina, home to eight HBCUs, offered a rousing round of applause for his answer. But there were seven little words tucked into Booker’s response that left a big impact across social media. In case you missed them, he tweeted the same words shortly after the town hall ended late Wednesday night.
Beyond his family ties, Booker is no stranger to HBCUs. He, along with other senators including Kamala Harris, who is also running for the 2020 presidency, introduced the HBCU Capital Financing Improvement Act in January 2018, which is a bill that aims to help improve the financial health of HBCUs.
Booker, who announced his campaign for the presidency during Black History Month, also covered a wide array of other topics during the town hall. He slammed the controversial 90s crime bill that was signed into law by former president Bill Clinton and the bill’s supporters, fellow presidential hopeful Berney Sanders and former vice president Joe Biden. Booker also expressed frustration with the whole conversation around reparations for descendants of enslaved Africans, as he said the conversation has been minimized.
“It’s being reduced to a box to check on a presidential list, when this is so much more of a serious conversation,” Booker said. “So do I support legislation that is race-conscious about balancing the economic scales? Not only do I support it, but I have legislation that actually does it.”
A report last August found that white were quickly becoming the majority of HBCU students. “In many cases, African-American students have ceased being a majority at HBCUs,” Diverse Issues in Higher Education said at the time. “At some, they are a small minority among a White majority.”
That fact could be why Booker’s comments about HBCUs seemed to resonate, for better or for worse, with many Twitter users, who all seemed to direct their collective side-eye to the Senator’s sentiments about historically Black colleges. Scroll down to see a sample of social media responses.