As President Donald Trump delivered a speech about criminal justice to a room full of political allies and just a handful of students at the historically black college Benedict College, in Columbia, S.C., the majority of students on campus were reportedly ordered to stay inside their dorms, according to Time.
Trump faced criticism for holding the Friday afternoon event at a historically black school just days after he referred to his impeachment as a “lynching.”
“So some day, if a Democrat becomes President and the Republicans win the House, even by a tiny margin, they can impeach the President, all without due process of fairness or any legal rights,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday. “All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here – a lynching. But we will WIN!”
Benedict College Spokeswoman Kymm Hunter reportedly told the White House press pool that only seven students attended the speech, and CNN reports that Columbia’s Mayor Stephen Benjamin said the White House chose who else attended.
“Benedict College spokeswoman Kymm Hunter told the W.H. press pool nine students were confirmed to attend, although two had ROTC training, so seven attended the president’s remarks,” CBS News reported.
“This should have been an opportunity for at least scores of students to attend this event,” Benjamin told CNN.
Trump’s invitation to Benedict College caused Democratic Presidential Candidate and Senator Kamala Harris to drop out of the event. Harris tweeted: “I won’t be complicit in papering over Trump’s record.”
On Saturday’s edition of MSNBC’s “AM Joy,” economist and author Julianne Malveaux blasted Trump for using the institution as a “prop” to excuse his own racism.
“Talk to us for a moment about the significance of how he has used race in this country and why he is now being honored at this university,” said anchor Ayman Mohyeldin.
“Well, first of all, the university did not honor him,” said Malveaux, who served for five years as the president of Bennett College, a private historically black liberal arts college for women in Greensboro, North Carolina. “This organization honored him, whatever they are — the Second Step Organization, that’s looking at criminal justice. So, the university itself did not honor him. So that’s really important to note. The other thing that’s important to note is that students were sequestered in their dormitories. It’s so outrageous. So, you had seven students attend. Only ten were invited. But the rest of the student body could not leave the dormitory. They were sitting in the dormitory, even through the lunch hour, and they gave them snacks as opposed to a lunch. If I were a parent, I would be suing.”
“Now, I will say that, having been a college president myself, college presidents always stuck between a rock and a hard place,” continued Malveaux. “It’d be hard to say, no, the president of the United States cannot come to my campus, but the campus did not invite him. This organization invited him. They first leased the college or said, can we have this presidential thing on criminal justice on your campus, and later, after the fact, they brought 45 on. He has used black people consistently as props. He has used HBCUs as props. Remember two years ago, when he had about 70 presidents in the Oval Office. It was a horrible picture. And some of my friends were there, but they said, how do you say no?”
“Understand, this South Carolina meeting at Benedict, they flew black Republicans from all over the country so that they had a full house, but they didn’t have students there,” said Malveaux.
“So, basically, Benedict College allowed itself to be used as a backdrop, but that’s just like the folks who show up — you know, this was a college-based Trump rally. Really, he’s had a rally on campus and he used the campus.”
“He always talks about low black unemployment rates, but the fact is that the black unemployment rate is twice that of whites, so he’s normalizing inequality,” she added. “He’s constantly talked about what he has done, but there was a piece of legislation that provided permanent extension of HBCU funds, it got through the House and he did not use his influence to get it through the Senate, so it died. So, he basically just tells lies, big lies, and big, big lies.”