Just days before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the president of a top-ranked Historically Black College and University condemned remarks from one of the richest men in the world, Elon Musk.
Delaware State University President Tony Allen Thursday stated that the tweets from Musk – the owner of X, formerly known as Twitter – were “unoriginal in their amplification of antiquated racial tropes, signify little of objective consequence and strike any learned ear as attention-seeking noise.”
Many online are claiming a tweet from Musk put into question the IQ and intelligence of students who attend HBCUs.
Musk replied to a tweet that stated that the graduates of the HBCU partners of United Airlines have a lower IQ than the average IQ of United States Air Force pilots.
Allen took particular exception to this, especially since DSU’s aviation program has been significantly growing in recent years.
“You can only imagine the kind of concern and outrage that I personally had when I saw the attack not only on the university, but on those fine students in that program,” Allen said Friday.
“It’s an outstanding program,” Allen said Friday. “I’ve said many times, we produce more pilots with color, any other place in the country, and we are the high-quality, low-cost provider for all aviation schools east of the Mississippi.”
The DSU Aviation Program currently has 110 Professional Pilot students and 47 Aviation Management majors.
Established at the institution in 1987, the Aviation Program owns a fleet of 26 airplanes. They are maintained at Delaware Airpark in Cheswold, the program’s base of flight training operations.
Allen said Friday that the partnership with United Airlines has been fantastic.
“Their Aviate Program is world class,” he said Friday. “We’re proud to be a significant partner in that regard and understand them and our other airline partners as uniquely committed not only to preparing the aviation industry for what is the significant shortage in pilots, but doing so with a special emphasis on people of color and women, which is a strong objective in their view, and one that I completely applaud.”
Allen said Musk’s statements come just a few days before the nation celebrates the birthday of one of its most consequential sons—an American force on the world stage and enshrined in human history—an HBCU alum, The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The HBCU legacy is 186 years old and proud, he said, replete with talent, intelligence, achievement, success and contributions to an America that would be poorer without it.
Allen said Black aviators are competent professionals required to attain the same achievement standard as any counterpart, particularly at HBCUs.
“Any accusation otherwise echoes humanity’s silliest yet most pervasive prejudices and reverberates with debunked narratives that have always sought to oppress populations to preserve the power of another,” Allen said. “Consider that American history tells the tale of one immigrant wave oppressing the next and the next in favor of its own. And Black Americans have been here all the while—withstanding, transcending and soaring despite the pressure to remain earthbound forever.”
Aviation is one area in which Black participation has been hard-won, he said, but the Black community is making great strides, achieving success at the same objective classifications and standards set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration.
“Qualified is qualified,” Allen said. “There is no free pass anywhere in this field. During World War II, at Delaware State University, we were among six HBCUs with aviation programs that ultimately became the famed Tuskegee Airmen.”
Allen said only those who are uninformed fail to recall that American military history is full of Black achievements and heroics.
“Today, we graduate more qualified pilots of color than any other school in the country and serve many aviation students from all backgrounds, regardless of where they come from,” Allen said. “That’s an America worth fighting for and flying for.”
Allen’s statement also included statistics showing the worth and impact of HBCUs in the workforce:
- Without HBCUs, 325,000 fewer students of color every year would have college degrees.
- Without HBCUs, there would be 30% fewer Black scientists and STEM professionals.
- Without HBCUs, the number of Black lawyers would be cut in half.
- Without HBCUs, there would be almost no Black doctors.
- Without HBCUs, the Black middle class would be decimated.
- Without HBCUs, by 2030, the detrimental impact to the American economy of all that loss would be at least $1.7 trillion.
“All of this has been achieved despite systemic underfunding over time and despite racist narratives belying the very truth of our excellence,” he said. “I would warn us instead against those who masquerade as intelligent but who, as Dr. King himself warned, lack the hallmarks of the truly educated. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of proper education.”
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
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