Allen B. West

Oldest black college on verge of closing – will LeBron James wear a t-shirt about that?

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For some of you this story will mean nothing — but to me it means a lot. I believe in honoring history, traditions and legacies. And I do believe in and support the Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the United States.

My mother graduated from Ft. Valley State College in Georgia. My Aunt Brendalyn graduated from Morris Brown College in Atlanta. My Uncle Samuel Jerome graduated from Tennessee State University – I’ll never forget when Ed “Too Tall” Jones came to visit. My niece Chiquetta graduated from Florida A&M University.

As for me, well, I actually had a scholarship to Southern University in Louisiana but that sage and wise ol’ man, my dad, Buck West, decided that if I was to be an officer in the U.S. Army — I needed to attend school in an environment where I was in the minority so I would never be intimidated. And at the time, the University of Tennessee had one of the nation’s best Army ROTC programs – like I said, he was a wise man.

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Yes, I have donated to the United Negro College Fund and will continue to do so — after all, a mind is a terrible thing to waste. And I believe it’s my responsibility to give back to my black community and create better opportunities for the next generation.

So this story from Reuters disturbs me greatly, “The nation’s oldest black college, Cheyney University, one of Pennsylvania’s 14 state-run universities, is on the verge of a financial meltdown that threatens its ability to continue operating, a state official said on Wednesday. Cheyney’s student body has shrunk by two-thirds, to about 1,000, since its 1983 peak, and its four-year graduation rate is just 9 percent.”

“A quarter of students never receive a degree, and student loan defaults are high. “Cheyney is in dire, dire, dire straits,” the state’s auditor general, Eugene DePasquale, said. The university has had a deficit for four of the last five years, growing to a cumulative $12.3 million shortfall as of June 30, 2013.”

“Cheyney’s fiscal problems – students who are unable to repay debt and increasing pension costs – were exacerbated by cutbacks in state higher education funding.”

What is disturbing to me is I don’t hear about Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson addressing this issue. There are no marches and grandstanding speeches addressing this travesty. Instead of Samuel L. Jackson making videos featuring an incendiary song, why not commit some of his millions to enable Cheyney University to keep its doors open?

Heck, instead of these black pro football players walking around with hands up and LeBron James and others wearing t-shirts quoting the words of a man with some 34 priors who was resisting arrest, why don’t they donate some of their millions and sponsor a scholarship for a deserving inner city child to get a quality education?

Where are the white liberal progressives who talk the talk about black social injustice? Of course those are the same voices who speak out against school vouchers, school choice, charter schools, and home schooling — basically any means by which black children can attain a better education instead of being relegated to a failing public school system, as promoted by the progressives best friends — the teachers unions.

As Reuters reports, “Cheyney, located in the Philadelphia suburb of the same name, was founded in 1837 after Quaker philanthropist Richard Humphreys bequeathed part of his estate to build a school to educate descendents of the African race, according to the university’s website. Its alumni include journalist Ed Bradley, state and U.S. elected officials, several National Football League players, a U.S. ambassador to South Africa, and Robert Bogle, chief executive of The Philadelphia Tribune. Cheyney “has done many good things since 1837,” interim university president Frank Pogue said in a statement. “We are doing many good things today, and we will do many good things in the coming years.”

I was just in Philadelphia this past week, and if there’s one thing the greater Philly-Camden NJ-Wilmington Delaware area needs, it’s a premier HBCU.

The not so well known truth is that many of the HBCUs were began by white abolitionists — yep, those mean pesky Republicans, you know, that party that was begun for one purpose, the eradication of slavery. We reported here on a scholarship provided by the infamous and oft-demonized Koch Brothers to the UNCF — and guess what happened? The UNCF was attacked by unions for accepting the monetary gift from the Koch Brothers Foundation — and who exactly are the mean uncaring folks?

Nothing would please me more than to have a group of conservatives take up the cause of Cheyney University, make it financially viable and develop a strategic program that offers scholarships to deserving kids in the inner city along the I-95 northern corridor. I’d love to see someone do something absolutely amazing and recreate Cheyney University as the first black free market constitutional conservative university.

And why couldn’t that happen at the nation’s oldest black college? I’d love to see Cheyney University grow to rival Hillsdale College or Northwood University, both in Michigan.

Let’s find a way to create a black university that focuses on developing and creating the next generation of black businessmen and women, economists, and marketing executives — truly a premier institution. A place of higher learning where black students are taught based on the three principles of Booker T. Washington — education, entrepreneurship, and self-reliance. There’s only one way we break the chains of the welfare nanny-state — an education based on constitutional conservative values.

Heck, I’d be honored one day to go there and be the Head of a Department of Political Science and Public Policy. And you can bet my former business professor wife Angela would love to head up a College of Business. Yep, here’s a great challenge conservatives can champion — progressive socialists of the left certainly won’t because they’re too busy out protesting, marching and attacking the police.

This is not a matter of self-imposed segregation — this is about taking a legacy, a tradition, and remaking it into something better in the 21st century. And just so you know, there are white students who attend HBCUs. It’s not about segregation, it’s about prioritization.

So let’s see if someone of vital means will find a way to make this idea that could change America come to fruition. And you know I must be serious if I’d offer myself and my wife to be on the faculty there, because I don’t like the cold!

Regardless, I hope someone from Cheyney University gets contact with me. Yep, it’s just that important, and it’s what Buck and Snooks would expect of their son.

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