Oprah Winfrey came to Charlotte to help raise money at a United Negro College Fund (UNCF) event and left an unexpected gift behind — a donation of $1.15 million dollars. Winfrey came to Charlotte to give a talk at the 17th annual Maya Angelou Women Who Lead Luncheon this past weekend. The UNCF set a goal of raising $1 million, which would be used for scholarships for students in the area to attend HBCUs. Winfrey asked the audience how much had been raised so far and that’s when the event took a sharp turn.
Winfrey told the audience, “We do want to make this the world record-breaking event,” and that’s precisely what happened. Winfrey agreed to match the total amount raised — $1.15 million — bringing the total for the event to $2.3 million. Predictably, the crowd went nuts. But this isn’t Winfrey’s first time showing such generosity to a Black institution. Winfrey donated $21 million to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2016. In 1995 Winfrey made a $1 million contribution to Spelman College and has given at least $12 million to Morehouse over the years. Winfrey’s generosity is certainly commendable but we should do more than just celebrate it, indeed we should all emulate.
Few people — Black, white or purple — have $1 million to spare. What we all have, however, is a few dollars every month. Collectively, if we all choose to give $10 each month to the HBCU closest to us (geographically or sentimentally), those institutions would actually benefit much more than they do from the occasional large gift from an Oprah Winfrey. Yes, Black institutions certainly need large donors but it is our collective responsibility to uphold our institutions of higher learning. Let’s salute Oprah Winfrey and other celebs and also support our HBCUs, together.