NEW ORLEANS -- At Xavier University Tuesday, Representative Cedric Richmond listened carefully as he heard straight from the mouth of students the concerns and frustrations affecting black youth.
The listening session is part of the Congressional Black Caucus's Historically Black College and University tour during their break from legislative session.
"So that we can engage with our young people," Rep. Richmond said. "And get an idea, not of their student life, but their home life and the challenges they've faced."
Representative Richmond plans on taking those challenges directly to President Donald Trump.
"When you start looking at problems in the African-American community, or poor communities, they're all rooted along economics and economic opportunities," he said. "So, whether it's education, whether it's crime, it doesn't matter. It all gets its root from the same thing, and that is economic opportunity."
HBCU funding and civil rights are at the top of Richmond's priority list when he meets with Trump. Civil rights was also a topic the President touched on after touring the African-American Museum in Washington D.C. Tuesday. The president spoke specifically about recent threats made to Jewish community centers.
"This tour is a meaningful reminder of why we need to fight hatred, bigotry and intolerance in all its ugly forms," President Trump said.
However, Richmond is skeptical of Trump's remarks.
"If he wanted to end the bigotry, why don't you get the "bigot" out of the White House?," Richmond asked. "He has Steve Bannon in the White House as a senior advisor. He is a bigot and a White Supremacist, so, how can you heal the country and bring us together, if this is what you put in the White House and on the national security council? So, we have grave concerns about that."
South Carolina Representative Jim Clyburn also spent his Tuesday at Xavier. Representative Clyburn said the issues affecting African-Americans go far beyond partisan politics.
"We had real fights with President Obama's staff when it came to HBCU's," Rep. Clyburn said. "Xavier, Dillard, Southern, Grambling, all these schools suffered when the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, changed the rules on parent plus loans. They suffered very negatively. It's got nothing to do with Trump being a white guy. We had the same kinds of problems with Obama, the black guy."
Richmond and Clyburn said they look forward to having an open and honest conversation with President Trump. The time and date of this meeting, officials said, are still in the works.
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