New Orleans congressman touts Clinton in North Little Rock

U.S. Rep. Cecil Richmond campaigned for Hillary Clinton at Shorter College in North Little Rock Tuesday.

Hillary Clinton's plan to invest billions of dollars in historically black colleges and universities was touted in front of students at North Little Rock's Shorter College by a U.S. congressman speaking for the Clinton campaign.

Rep. Cecil Richmond, a Democrat who represents New Orleans, spoke about his own experience graduating from Morehouse College and entering a career in public service.

He accused Sen. Bernie Sanders of ignoring black colleges and universities in his campaign promise to make all public institutions tuition-free. That plan would benefit wealthy families and lead to the closure of up to half of private historically black colleges, Richmond said.

Before his speech, students and faculty held a forum discussing common experiences of race and appropriate responses to those issues.

Addressing the topic of the Black Lives Matter movement brought up in the forum, Richmond said the phrase was appropriate to describe a lack of response to issues brought up in the 1980s and 1990s.

"They have changed the conversation," Richmond said of the movement. "Improving lives for African-Americans requires plans tailored for African-Americans."

Harvell Howard, a 36-year-old consultant for Shorter College and a participant in the forum, said the congressman's message and support of Hillary Clinton was well-received.

"In terms of the issues our community is facing, he was right on point," Howard said.

In an interview before his speech, Richmond said he believes Clinton is ahead of Sanders heading into the March 1 primary.

"She has a body of work that speaks to Southern issues," Richmond said, referring to her work as first lady of Arkansas and at Children's Defense Fund.

Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.