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Last Friday afternoon as Black History Month drew to a close, President Barack Obama signed an executive order intended to strengthen the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. While every president since Carter has sought to help HBCUs, there’s something special about a black president supporting black higher education.

Teaching slaves how to read and write was once illegal in the United States, in an attempt to clip our wings and narrow our minds. It didn’t work and think how far-sighted it was after the Civil War to launch universities that could provide illiterate slaves and the children of slaves education.

President Obama gave a shoutout not only to contemporary educators and legislators during his speech, but also Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, Thurgood Marshall, Oprah Winfrey and Martin Luther King — all products of HBCUs.

Read more here.

Check out footage of Virginia State University’s marching band performing at the White House below: