President Joe Biden visited N.C. A&T on Thursday to talk about his "Build a Better America" plan and tour the university's new engineering research and innovation complex.
Hours before the president arrived, a crowd formed at the corner of Benbow Road and Bluford Street in Greensboro. The roads in the surrounding area were blocked off to deter traffic.
Shortly before 3 p.m., Biden began speaking at the Alumni-Foundation Event Center.
"Science and technology is moving so incredibly rapidly," Biden said. "It is all part of a broader vision that Vice President Harris and I ran on: to build back a better America than even before the pandemic."
In the last year, Biden said the federal government was able to provide more than $5 billion in funds to historically Black colleges and universities last year, and more funding will be provided in the coming year.
"I'm here today to talk about my plan to create and expand HBCU programs in high-demand fields like cyber security, mass manufacturing, health care and so much more," he said.
At N.C. A&T, one of the 12 HBCUs in the state, the Harold L. Martin Sr. Engineering Research & Innovation Complex was recently developed to support engineering research. The four-story facility had its grand opening in mid-February.
Also at the Thursday event, Biden also discussed the U.S. economy and inflation, and spoke about the impact of rising gas prices due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
As of March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that inflation has risen to 8.5 percent across the United States. This is the largest 12-month increase since 1981.
“Our economy has gone from being on the mend to being on the move," Biden said. "I know that we are still facing challenges of high prices, inflation. I grew up in a family where if the price of gasoline went up at the pump it was a conversation at the kitchen table with my dad."
John Rierson, who works for the Department of Information Technology at N.C. A&T, said that residents in the state have concerns about gas prices and the economy, and he wanted to hear from Biden about these issues.
“I think he needs to speak to the people in North Carolina,” Rierson said. “I think a lot of people have questions.”
For some students, Biden's visit came as a surprise.
N.C. A&T student Naseyah Williams said that she did not know about Biden's visit until 10 a.m. that day. Williams said she only watched parts of the speech but what she heard was important.
“He was saying how he was signing more Pell grants so that more Black and minorities would be able to go to college," Williams said. "He was saying how they were going to be providing 5 billion dollars in funding to HBCUs, and I think that that was all I heard but that's honestly the most important part."
Students at the university said they were not well-informed that Biden was coming to their campus.
“My mom is the one who reached out to me,” N.C. A&T sophomore Jordan Dawkins said, “She said ‘You know the president's coming to school’ and I was like ‘The president, oh snap!'”
Before leaving, Biden came out the front doors of the Alumni-Foundation Event Center and waved to the students gathered on the opposite sidewalk. They responded by chanting "Aggie pride!"
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