Just hours after Donald Trump was sworn in as America’s 45th president, the tricky political relationship between Republican presidents and historically black colleges and universities was already on display.
Talladega College, one of the 105 black colleges dotting the United States, seized on the rare opportunity for its marching band to participate in a presidential inaugural parade, raising nearly $700,000 in the process. Its presence also served as a symbolic gesture of inclusion for a newly elected president who has faced persistent accusations of racial intolerance. On campus and beyond, Talladega’s decision was deeply controversial—even alumni were overwhelmingly opposed to the school participating—and spurred a debate over whether the exposure and experience was worth being viewed as a political prop.
In the tenuous relationship between Republican leaders and historically black schools, this is the way it has been for a long time. Politics makes for strange bedfellows—as is undoubtedly true of Trump and Talladega—but the blend of political expediency and areas of ideological overlap have proved a strong enough elixir to bring the two together and sustain a relationship over time. Together, they march to their own beat.
Of course, relationships forged out of expedience do not often lead to lasting bonds of friendship. But, to paraphrase Henry Kissinger, it’s not about friends, but interests—both political and financial. (Politico Magazine)