Jay Z is no stranger to going on tour but this current one is all about Black institutions. The Shawn Carter Foundation has taken 125 high school students from New York and New Jersey on a bus tour of 11 HBCUs. Each of the students have previously been accepted to at least one school and this tour will kick off their decision making process. In addition, they will meet with college admissions counselors and former students involved with the Shawn Carter Foundation at each college.
Carter launched the Foundation in 2003 with his mother, Gloria. Since that time the organization has helped hundreds of high school students. This annual tour actually began in 2007 and is in line with other efforts Carter and his (very well known) wife have made in recent years. Last year the couple awarded over $1 million in scholarships for students around the country, accenting the On The Run II tour. A $100,000 scholarship was awarded to a high school senior during each of the tour’s stops in U.S. cities. The Carter family’s specific focus on HBCUs is well founded.
Imagine a man with small pockets with a good woman. Imagine that same man getting a little money and attracting more suitors. The man then leaves the woman who was with him from day one for another. In some ways, this is the relationship of Black people to our HBCUs. They accepted us from day one, made us strong and produced some of our greatest leaders. Today, however, as our options have increased we have too often forgotten about our institutions. Still HBCUs produce 80 percent of Black judges, 90 percent of Black STEM graduates and graduate more poor Black students than PWIs. Their value is evident.
We don’t have Jay Z money but all of us should be involved in supporting our HBCUs. The simplest and most beneficial way is to support them financially. Here’s a simple idea — take out a map and locate the HBCU closest to your home. Starting May 1st, make a commitment to donate $10 each month to the school. Or if you have a connection to an HBCU through a family member, donate to that school. If we all did this, our HBCUs would be helped tremendously.