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Roland Martin launches initiative to fund HBCUs

Alexa Imani Spencer, Roland Martin and Noni Marshall.

Alexa Imani Spencer, Roland Martin and Noni Marshall.

Roland Martin launches initiative to fund HBCUs

By Alexa Imani Spencer and Noni Marshall (NNPA/DTU Journalism Fellows)

Alarmed by the critical financial state of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) throughout the nation, News One Now host Roland S. Martin has issued a call to action to address the problem.

Several weeks into the initiative, Martin has been urging viewers and followers on social media to get involved by donating to an HBCU of their choice.

“It’s an abomination, and I use that word very clearly, to have HBCUs where only 3 to 5 percent of their graduates give a dollar,” Martin said.

The movement began with a lapel pin. After a series of speeches at academic institutions, Martin accumulated a collection of pins representing each school. Inspired, he began to promote the cause, #HBCUGivingDay, by wearing a different pin on his show daily.

“It started with the universities where I had given commencement speeches,” Martin said. “It literally started with me saying, ‘tomorrow morning I’m going to put this pin on.’”

On his show, Martin has showcased several lapel pins in support of giving, including Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis, Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana, Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia, and Spelman College in Atlanta.

HBCUs have had a chronic history of financial instability, causing many to close and cut programs, which ultimately minimizes the opportunity for students to engage in higher education.

Martin suggests that this can be avoided if alumni commit to giving.

“The problem I have is not with them only giving x amount of money. The problem is not giving anything,” he said.

On June 12, Martin implored viewers to donate to Virginia State University, a public historically Black land-grant university in Petersburg, Virginia, an appeal that proved to be effective.

Virginia State University National Alumni Association President Franklin Johnson Jr. said numerous people have reached out about how to give.

“I feel honestly, as serving as the National Alumni Association president, there has been some benefit from the initiative,” said Johnson, who also decided to join the giving pool. “I give several times, myself, throughout the year, but I just felt the need because he called out my school.”

The Virginia State University National Alumni Association has also launched its own giving campaign, 1,000 Trojans Giving 100 Dollars. Introduced in March 2016, the initiative seeks to match a $100,000 donation given to the university by its president, Makola Abdullah and his wife, Ahkinyala Cobb-Abdullah. To date, they have received over $50,000 in donations.

“Our goal is to be as close to the $100,000 by homecoming. We’re really pushing for that,” Johnson said.

 

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