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Memorandum From the President on Historically Black Colleges and Universities

January 17, 1979

Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies

The approximately one hundred historically black colleges of this Nation have played and continue to play a unique and important role in providing educational opportunities to many thousands of students. They have done so in the past when there were no other avenues open to the overwhelming majority of black students. They do so now by continuing to provide special opportunities for students of all races.

The continuing importance of historically black colleges and universities, not only to students but also to this Nation's social, economic and educational life, cannot be over-estimated. This Administration is committed to enhancing their strength and prosperity.

In moving toward this goal the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare criteria call for efforts to strengthen the historically black public institutions through increased financial support, new and expanded programs, and the elimination of educationally unnecessary program duplication between them and their traditional white counterparts. These efforts are required to ensure that the historically black colleges are able to participate fully in the educational and social progress of our Nation.

I have repeatedly expressed my hope that the historically black colleges will be stronger when I leave office than when my Administration began. I am asking today that you personally join with me in meeting this objective by initiating and overseeing the following actions:

• Conduct a thorough review of the operations within your department or agency to ensure that historically black institutions are being given a fair opportunity to participate in Federal grant and contract programs. Ensure that an affirmative effort is made to inform black colleges of the opportunity to apply and compete for grants and contracts. Particular attention should be given to identifying and eliminating unintended barriers that may have resulted in reduced participation in and benefits from Federal programs by these colleges.

• Identify areas where historically black institutions can participate more effectively in your Department's activities. Consider, for example, small research contracts or grants which can be let without competition, and new or existing cooperative education programs which facilitate minority student access to Federal employment.

• Where appropriate, establish goals and timetables for increased participation of historically black colleges in the activities of your department or agency. These goals should reflect targets for increased expenditures beyond your fiscal 1978 levels.

• Establish a forum for continuing consultation with representatives from the historically black colleges and universities. Plan visits and other efforts to familiarize appropriate staff in your agency with the unique and indispensable resources at black colleges.

• Appoint a high-level liaison person to oversee these activities.

I am asking Louis Martin, my special assistant, in cooperation with the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, to monitor the implementation of this directive government-wide. I personally plan to review periodically progress made toward increasing access of historically black colleges to all Federal agencies.

In a separate communication, I have asked that Secretary Califano resume publication of the Federal Interagency Committee on Education's annual report on patterns of Federal funding for historically black colleges.

I want to be certain that this Administration's strong commitments to the Nation's historically black colleges and the contents of this directive are thoroughly understood by everyone. Please be certain that copies of this directive are circulated to all appropriate individuals within your department or agency.


Jimmy Carter, Memorandum From the President on Historically Black Colleges and Universities Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/249180

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