By Keisha Kelley, For The African-American Athlete
For reasons unknown, Charles Barkley, the Auburn legend, NBA MVP, 11 time NBA All-Star, and multiple accolades including the Hall of Fame, that would take days to list, decided to do something that left many people questioning his reason why.
Barkley, who has no direct connection to Alabama Agriculture and Mechanics University (AAMU), located in Normal, Ala. or Clark Atlanta University (CAU), located in historic Atlanta, Ga., donated $1 million to both Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
The Leeds, Ala., native announced the donation on WJOX radio in Birmingham.
Barkley’s philanthropy begs the question. If Sir Charles can make notable donations to institutions he’s not directly connected to, why can’t professional athletes, entertainment moguls, and business entrepreneurs, make the same philanthropic effort to HBCUs?
We all know the ongoing financial constraints most HBCUs have dealt with over the generations that they have educated Black America.
Bill Cosby, before being targeted in the media, was one of the most generous benefactors to many colleges. He and wife Camille made a large donation to both Spelman College and Fisk University in 1988. Cosby donated a whopping $20 million to Spelman and $1.3 million to Fisk. By 1994, the Cosby’s had donated more than $70 million dollars to various HBCU’s.
Actor Terrence J., who graduated from North Carolina A & T State University flexed his muscle, and donated an endowment fund of $100,000 that will benefit the journalism and communications department.
Actor Denzel Washington, and hip hop legend MC Lyte have also been known to be charitable, with Washington donating money and time to Dillard University, located in New Orleans.
We simply can’t forget the donation of $12 million from Oprah Winfrey to Morehouse College. What about famed attorney Willie E Gary? The successful motivational speaker, cable TV executive, and North Carolina Central University and Shaw University graduate, donated $10 million to Shaw.
Although the list goes on and on, why haven’t more celebrities or athletes given back to HBCUs?
Dr. Dre donated $70 million to the University of Southern California (USC). Now, that effort in my opinion is amazing, but the Trojans are hardly in need of a financial kick in the pants.
It’s Dr. Dre’s money, but why not send something to a small HBCU, or an athletic program where athletes are pushing hard to pursue a dream in facilities sometimes that are struggling to stay together?
What about the community that has supported Dr Dre throughout the years? It’s like giving money to a person with a full ride to college for four years, while bypassing a kid who barley has enough money to pay for books.
I think to myself if the Lebrons, Kobes, Jordans, and Shaqs donated to HBCUs, what a shot in the arm it would be. What about the Beyonce’s and Jay Zs or Kanyes?
All of these moguls and athletes are the people we in the black community have all supported at some point and time. Although they are not directly connected to any specific university, it would be nice to see Bey creating buzz writing a check at Tuskegee, or Jay Z big pimping signing a check for Southern University.
So, why not choose a HBCU to donate to?
I will continue to applaud the efforts or those like Grambling’s Chester Rogers Jr., of the Indianapolis Colts, who came up with the ‘Walk On Scholarship’ to pay for a deserving walk-on player for the Tigers who shows character on and off the field, perseverance, and a 2.5 GPA.
If every athlete that has come out of an HBCU and has gone on to play professional sports would donate back to their alma mater, or struggling university, they would indeed be in much better shape.
Although HBCU grads are rich in heritage and pride, a check from Cameron Newton or Jameis Winston wouldn’t hurt. If African American athletes put themselves in the same position as other aspiring athletes who are pursuing the same dream, maybe they would be pushed to give more.
It’s their money to spend, but always remember to support those who support you, and yes this time I’m specifically asking for HBCUs.
So if Charles Barkley donated today, who will be writing the next check tomorrow?
(Keisha J Kelley is a Southern University Grad, host of Black College Experience & PQSportsRadio. Fan of the Southern Jaguars and New Orleans Saints. You can find her on Heels2Turf or BlackCollegeExp on Twitter, Heels2Turf on Instagram and Keisha Kelley on FB)
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