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ACKNOWLEDGING UNPRECEDENTED SUPPORT FOR HBCUS

3/8/2017, noon | Updated on 3/8/2017, noon
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. routinely would remind those of us who worked for the Southern Christian Leadership ...
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., the president and CEO of the NNPA, says that the funding of HBCUs is a crucial matter that transcends the partisan divide between the left and the right.

ACKNOWLEDGING UNPRECEDENTED SUPPORT FOR HBCUS

By Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. (President

and CEO, NNPA)

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther

King, Jr. routinely would remind

those of us who worked for the

Southern Christian Leadership

Conference (SCLC) during the Civil

Rights Movement of the 1960s about

the vital importance of Historically

Black Colleges and Universities

(HBCUs). As we celebrated Black

History Month 2017, Dr. King’s

admonition concerning the

enduring need for HBCUs should be

reaffirmed every month.

Dr. King once emphasized,

“The function of education is to

teach one to think intensively and

to think critically. Intelligence plus

character—that is the goal of true

education.” Dr. King was a graduate

scholar of one of the leading HBCUs,

Morehouse College, in Atlanta, Georgia.

He was not only an intellectual genius

and spiritual leader, but also had an

enormous moral character that kept SCLC’s leadership on

the front-line of civil rights social transformation.

There should be no rational debate about the

contemporary necessity to support the sustainability of the

nation’s HBCUs. Yet, we do live in times where too many

people have been misled to lean on the unfortunate and

unstable walls of irrationality, divisiveness and the absence

of truth.

As we continue to posit and emphasize, there is a

glaring need to demand intellectual honesty in all matters

pertaining to the pursuit of freedom, justice, equality

and empowerment for Black America and all others who

struggle to improve the quality of life for all humanity.

When it comes to the crucial funding of HBCUs, this is a

matter that transcends the partisan divide between the left

and the right.

Truth is nonpartisan. Truth is therapeutic. Substantial

efforts to increase higher education opportunities for

Black Americans and others should not get mired down in

contradictory and self-defeating political discourse.

March 16 will mark the 190th anniversary of the

Black Press in America since the first publication of

“Freedom’s Journal” on March 16, 1827 in New York City.

Honesty, integrity, and publishing the truth without fear of

consequence have been the hallmarks of the Black Press in

the United States for nearly two centuries.

We have neither reluctance nor hesitation, therefore,

to acknowledge the strategic and unprecedented support

that the Charles Koch Foundation and Koch Industries

have given to Historically Black Colleges and Universities

via the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and Thurgood

Marshall College Fund (TMCF).

Recently, one of the single largest financial

contributions to TMCF, $25.6 million,

was made by the Charles Koch

Foundation and Koch Industries. These

funds are dedicated to establish and

develop TMCF’s Center for Advancing

Opportunity.

“This is a momentous partnership,”

stated Dr. Johnny C. Taylor, Thurgood

Marshall College Fund’s president and

chief executive officer. “Historically Black

Colleges and Universities are uniquely

positioned to lead the field in this type of

research. There are thousands of fragile

communities across the United States

where there are tremendous barriers to

opportunity. It’s important to recognize

that lasting change to strengthen these

communities must begin at the local

level. So, we are proud to come together

with the Charles Koch Foundation and

Koch Industries to help members of

these communities identify and study the

challenges most significant to them.”

The Center for Advancing

Opportunity will focus on education,

criminal justice, entrepreneurship and

other issues that affect the quality of life in African

American communities. The center also will create

research think tanks on HBCU campuses, provide

academic scholarships, establish graduate fellowships and

render grants to selected HBCU faculty members.

As a proud graduate of the flagship HBCU Howard

University, I have witnessed firsthand the advantages

and enormous value of primary research accomplished

by Howard and other HBCU centers of research power,

ingenuity and innovation. The proposed TMCF Center for

Advancing Opportunity is a welcomed development that

the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA)

salutes and applauds forthrightly.

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is the President and

CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association

(NNPA) and can be reached at dr.bchavis@nnpa.org.