When the administration of President Donald Trump announced that there would be a “listening session” with HBCU presidents at the White House there were concerns that the meeting would be nothing more than a photo opportunity for a president that has stumbled badly when it comes to reaching out to Blacks.

Those concerns appear to have been proven correct.

President Donald Trump, right, meets with leaders of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017. Also at the meeting are White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, left, and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, on the couch. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Donald Trump, right, meets with leaders of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017. Also at the meeting are White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, left, and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, on the couch. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Attending the Oval Office meeting were Maryland and Virginia-area HBCU presidents, including David Wilson, president of Morgan State University and Juliette Bell, president of University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES). Among the reportedly close to 90 other presidents in attendance were Walter M. Kimbrough, president of Dillard University, and William Harvey, president, Hampton State University.  Maria Thompson, president of Baltimore’s Coppin State University and Wayne A. I. Frederick, president of D.C.’s Howard University were not at the meeting.  From the beginning of the meeting, things appeared to go wrong for the administration.

Kellyane Conway, counselor to the president, was photographed casually kneeling on a couch in the Oval Office while the presidents of the gathered HBCUs posed standing with the President. The photograph has been condemned as not showing sufficient respect to the HBCU presidents and the office of the President.

In addition to a lack of respect, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos issued a statement about the meeting. In it, she said that HBCUs were started as a way of offering Black students “school choice” instead of the reality that they were created as a result of state-sanctioned segregation.

“ started from the fact that there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education. They saw that the system wasn’t working, that there was an absence of opportunity, so they took it upon themselves to provide the solution,” she wrote.

According to HBCU Buzz, there are more than 100 HBCUs in the United States.

“HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice. They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality,” DeVos continued.

Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) quickly issued a statement condemning Devos’ remarks. “Let’s be clear, HBCUs were started because of Jim Crow laws. Black students did not “choose” HBCUs over all White colleges—they were barred from attending due to their race,” he wrote. “This statement by Mrs. Devos reveals either a stunning ignorance of history on the part of the person tasked with overseeing our nation’s education system, or an inability to acknowledge our nation’s shameful history of racial discrimination in education, both public and private.”

Responding to the DeVos controversy, Morgan’s Wilson said in a video posted on Twitter that it was a “very unfortunate choice of words expressed very inartfully.”

On Feb. 28 DeVos issued an apology on Twitter where she acknowledged that HBCUs began due to segregation. “#HBCUs are such an important piece of the fabric of American history—one that encompasses some of our nation’s greatest citizens. Providing an alternative option to students denied the right to attend a quality school is the legacy of #HBCUs. But your history was born not out of mere choice, but out of necessity, in the face of racism, and in the aftermath of the Civil War.”

Walter M. Kimbrough, president of Dillard University published a commentary saying “…there was very little listening to HBCU presidents today — we were only given about two minutes each, and that was cut to one minute, so only about seven of maybe 15 or so speakers were given an opportunity today,” he wrote.

On Feb. 28, Trump signed an executive order moving the White House Initiative on HBCUs—started by then President Jimmy Carter—from under control of the Dept. of Education to the White House.

UMES’ Bell, told the AFRO, “I went into this with an open mind. It’s important for leadership of institutions to be at the table to speak for ourselves in terms of the value of our institutions. I’m cautiously optimistic. The rhetoric is always good to hear but the proof will be in the action.”

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), enrollment for Black students at HBCUs decreased from 18 percent in 1976 to 8 percent in 2014. However, according to an article by Pew Research Center, figures from NCES show that in fall 2015, the combined total enrollment of all HBCUs was 293,000, compared with 234,000 in 1980.

Part of that action is, “To have an investment fund established to provide one time funding to 106 HBCUs that will help us to build infrastructure and help our institution be more competitive in competing for federal funds,” Bell said.

Washington D.C. Editor LaTrina Antoine contributed to this article.