HRC Blog

HRC & HBCU Students at Presidential Signing Ceremony

The following post is from Joey Gaskins, HRC's diversity student coordinator: Health Care Reform Signing 2010 004 Students in LineWhile the media focused on the battles waged on Capitol Hill around President Obama’s health insurance reform initiative, many news outlets overlooked the important positive steps being made for college students that were also made this week. On Tuesday March 30, President Obama signed the reconciliation bill with fixes to the original health care reform bill. With that signature he also made higher education in America more affordable for students everywhere, invested in community colleges and extended support to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, as well as Predominantly Black Institutions.  Lesbian and gay student leaders from HRC’s Historically Black College and University Program were invited by the White House Office of Public Engagement to witness the signing and be a part of history. Health Care Reform Signing 2010 034 President SigningI accompanied Howard University students Amari Ice (President of Howard University’s LGBT student organization) and Victoria Kirby (Howard graduate student and the only openly gay student trustee in the school’s history) along with Samantha Masters (student leader at Morgan State University) to Northern Virginia Community College for the President’s signing. The relevance of the signing on the NOVA campus became clear once Jill Biden, the Vice President’s wife, took the stage to introduce the President. Mrs. Biden is a community college instructor and a faculty member at the NOVA campus. For her, this legislation was monumental.   Health Care Reform Signing 2010 008 Students FrankenI cannot put into words how excited the students were to be able to have this experience. Not only were we able to listen to the President speak and even shake his hand, but students also had an opportunity to meet a few members congress who’d come to watch the signing as well. Sen. Al Franken was gracious enough to let us snap a few photos of him with the students, and I spoke to him briefly about some of the challenges LGBT students at HBCUs were facing on their campuses. Rep. Dennis Kucinich also stopped to talk with us and take pictures. And because this event was so important to the HBCU community, a number of leaders in the African American community were present. Along with Dr. Michael Lomax of the United Negro College Fund, Howard students had a chance to speak to the Chairman of the Howard University board of trustees, Mr. Addison Rand, about inclusion on the university’s campus.   Health Care Reform Signing 2010 046As President Obama affirms the importance of historically black institutions by increasing government support, HRC will continue to support LGBT students on HBCU campuses. By providing opportunities for students such as this, we bolster their leadership and empower them to go further than students before them have ever gone in their fight for more inclusive and welcoming campus communities. For more information about the HRC HBCU Program you can visit: www.hrc.org/hbcu

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