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 Roosevelt Room

2:38 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: So this is Historically Black Colleges and Universities executive order. Very important to all of us. This group has been fantastic, and many of which we were with yesterday and really developed something very special. So thank you. Thank you all for being here. Thank you, Mr. Vice President, also — Mike, for being here.

This is a very important moment, and a moment that means a great deal to me. This month has been a wonderful opportunity to celebrate African-American history, and to begin working together to create a better future for African-Americans and universities and colleges, and everything that is African-American. Today, we’re taking action to help make that future happen and that future better.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities are incredibly important institutions, woven into the fabric of our history just about like no other. Church is very important, right? Colleges and universities. Mike is my defender. (Laughter.) Education has the power to uplift. It has the power to transform. And, perhaps most important, education has the power to create greater equality and justice in our lives.

That’s why today I’m thrilled to be signing an executive order to recognize the importance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Very important. They have played such an important role in achieving progress for African-Americans and in our nation’s march for justice. HBCUs have been really pillars of the African-American community for more than 150 years — amazing job — and a grand and enduring symbol of America at its absolute best. And I congratulate you all.

With this executive order, we will make HBCUs a priority in the White House — an absolute priority. (Applause.) A lot of people are going to be angry that they’re not a priority, but that’s okay. (Laughter.) And we will pledge our support to you, your mission, and to our shared mission of bringing education and opportunity to all of our people.

And so I just want to congratulate — these are very, very special people surrounding me. You’ve done an amazing job. It’s not easy. Nothing is easy. But you’ve done an amazing job. And I just want to congratulate you all, and I want to thank you on behalf of our country.

And so I’m going to sign this. This is really fantastic. (Applause.)

2:41 P.M. EST