Benedict College takes hit to host Trump after complaints about self-consumed speech and prison reform award

Benedict College President Roslyn Artis was willing to take a hit for historically black colleges by having President Donald Trump use the Columbia school for a speech to brag about his criminal justice record.

For all of his racially tinged comments since taking office, such as comparing his impeachment inquiry to a lynching last week, Trump has helped boost federal funding for historically black colleges and universities used to provide more student financial aid.

“We have had a confusing relationship with this White House,” Artis told The Post and Courier.

Artis and her college of 2,200 students found themselves a hub of presidential politics over the weekend by hosting a criminal justice forum that included Trump and 10 top Democrats.

But the forum run by the 20/20 Bipartisan Justice Center did not turn out as planned.

Trump was supposed to take part in a question-and-answer session like the other Democratic candidates. He made the trip an official White House visit and got to make an hour-long speech. He also was given an award to the surprise of Artis and other Justice Center members.

The Trump appointee who runs the Justice Center, Georgia attorney Ashley Bell, got what he wanted, Artis said — a Republican president visiting a historically black college campus to discuss a top issue for African American voters without facing questions. That meant no direct criticism about his lynching comment during a visit to a college founded by Baptist abolitionists 149 years ago to educate recently freed slaves.

“I think he wanted this time for his candidate to be at the table, and he was willing to do what he needed to make this happen,” Artis said.

Asked if Benedict was duped into hosting the president on his terms, Artis said, “Your knee-jerk reaction is probably yes. When you sit back and reflect, it’s a sitting president and Continue Reading



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