President Of The United Negro College Fund Says Org Received Massive Surge In Support Following George Floyd's Killing
UNCF President and CEO, Michael L. Lomax, sat down with the "KIPP On Learning" podcast to discuss the uptick in donations as well as the significance of HBCUs.
December 06, 2020 at 8:24 pm
The killing of George Floyd, which sparked nationwide protests during the summer and forced dozens of American entities to examine their roles in systemic racism, also fueled a wave of support for the United Negro College Fund.
Michael L. Lomax, UNCF President and CEO for more than 16 years, appeared on the December episode of the KIPP On Learning podcast and discussed the impact of the demonstrations.
“When George Floyd died, was murdered, something happened that I didn't expect, and that is just people at every economic level, in every way of giving. I mean, 100,000 people have made contributions online to UNCF since his death," Lomax said in the conversation with KIPP Co-Founder Dave Levin.
Lomax said donors expressed outrage over the tragedy and highlighted the need to support education in times of racial tension, particularly showing their desire to uplift historically black colleges and universities.
"We didn't have to issue a statement about our commitment to Black lives," Lomax said. "We didn't have to issue a statement about our commitment to justice and equity. People just knew that. And they felt like if I'm going to do something productive and constructive about it, this is a place to do it."
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who joined Lomax on the podcast, donated $120 million to the UNCF, Spelman and Morehouse Colleges.
“We got to figure out how do we think about our current situation in America like a toxic waste dump, like Love Canal, which was a toxic waste dump that a school was built on in the 1960s," Hastings said. "And ultimately, the government couldn't figure out who to blame for it. So instead they created the super fund. This gigantic fund to work on cleaning up the toxic waste. Well, I think we need something like that. We've got to super fund this problem and have massive investment in schools, in housing, in employment."
The Netflix CEO said people have to be more open-minded to understand that Black college students may have a better experience when they attend HBCUs, where they're surrounded by Black excellence and placed in an environment where they get incredible confidence.
“I think to many people of my background, HBCUs seem like an anachronism because the dream is integration," Hastings said. "The dream is everybody gets a shot at going to elite institutions that have been Predominantly White Institutions. So, it takes some opening of the mind to, it may be a better experience for many of our Black college students to be in an HBCU."
Lomax said the UNCF has raised $5 billion in its 76 years of existence. He described the support of recent months as an "ignition of a new generation of support for these institutions."
Amazon also made a $1 million dollar donation to UNCF according to Global News Wire.
"It's been the result of two things," the social justice advocate said. "One of them is obviously the George Floyd killing just focused so much on inequity. Also, obviously following COVID where you saw so many young people and Black and brown kids really hit hard by this."
Levin told the story of a student named Kadija Marshall, who is one of the first recipients of the Lomax KIPP Scholarship.
"She was headed to Vanderbilt University, predominantly white institution, with a full ride to study pre-med focusing on neuroscience," the host said.
Although the Atlanta native loved Howard University when she visited the school, she was leaning towards Vanderbilt because it was able to offer more financially.
"The Lomax KIPP Scholarship changed this and empowered Kadija to make a choice of college not driven by dollars, but by her heart and dreams," Levin said. "She is now at Howard. Her story is like so many other students at KIPP. HBCUs provide our Black students a place built for them, a place where they feel seen and their experiences shared."
Many more institutions outside of HBCUs have also revamped their efforts to combat racism in the aftermath of Floyd's death. The University of Michigan and North Central University are two of the schools which have launched memorial scholarships in honor of the man who died at the hands of police in Minnesota.
“This scholarship is one way we can enhance our university’s commitment to investing in student leaders,” University of Michigan president Mark Schlissel said in a statement. “It also will serve as a reminder of the work to be done to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment here at U-M, while honoring the legacy of all of those, past and present, who have continually called for us to strive for a better, more diverse and more inclusive university.”
North Central University in Minneapolis launched a memorial scholarship shortly after Floyd's death on May 25 and inspired a nationwide trend, as Blavity previously reported.
“Far beyond North Central University, I am now challenging every university president in the USA to establish your own George Floyd memorial scholarship fund,” university president Scott Hagan said in June.
Derek Burgin, a freshman at NCU, received full tuition for four years in Floyd’s name.
“George Floyd started something that wasn’t going to be started for a long time. It brought me the scholarship I needed to get through North Central. I didn’t know if I was gonna last one year — if I was gonna be able to pay for it. But the scholarship has been a blessing,” Burgin told CBS Minnesota.