AMWS May, 20. 2019, Atlanta - Remnant offspring of the "talented tenth" are reeling in disbelief. A surprise announcement at Morehouse College by commencement speaker Robert F. Smith has put substance to faith that, on planet earth, business as usual is becoming a practice of the past.
"Potential is no guarantee of progress. We will only grasp the staggering potential of our time if we create on ramps that empower ALL people to participate, regardless of background, country of origin, religious practice, gender, or color of skin," said Smith.
Mellody Hobson is president of Ariel Investments, an a trusted financial advisor for YouthUSA Money-n-the-Bank assets. “…as long as I have the resources at my disposal, I will seek to raise the bar for future generations of students of all ages. I am dedicating the majority of my wealth to improving education,” pledged Hobson and filmmaker husband, George Lucas.
Smith and Hobson have joined other billionaires in dedicating the majority of their wealth to giving back. “We have been blessed with good fortune beyond our wildest expectations, and we are profoundly grateful. But just as these gifts are great, so we feel a great responsibility to use them well. That is why we are so pleased to join in making an explicit commitment to the Giving Pledge,” said Bill and Melinda Gates.
Men of the Morehouse College graduating class of 2019 are among the beneficiaries from an economic inclusion strategy. In Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s last book, Where Do We Go From Here: CHAOS or COMMUNITY?, he quotes economist Hyman Bookbinder.
“The poor can stop being poor if the rich are willing to become even richer at a slower rate... [But] unless a substantial sacrifice is made by the American people, the nation can expect further deterioration of the cities, increased antagonisms between the races, and continued disorders in the streets.” Bookbinder served as assistant director of the Office of Economic Opportunity in 1966.
Imagine any of 100 economic beneficiaries blessing your graduating class with a gift of debt forgiveness. For more than four centuries, someone has paid something forward to engage winners. Most winners at THE ANNUAL YOUTH ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS started with a grant valued at $1.00. Some saved the dollar, others spent it. But, a two percent minority invested in their own futures, adding value to vision for their American futures.
When the Morehouse graduation story broke, weekend news reporting focused on the dollar value of the gift and the “giver’s” capacity to make the gift real. Then reporters joined inquiring minds to connect some dots along an historically disadvantaged American timeline.
Prospective trustees will need to distinguish fact from fiction to see the gift as community reinvestment. According to 2018 tax returns, The United Negro College Fund “gathered” $89,277,990, made $130, 270, 154 in grants, and paid $20,108,973 in salaries.
Before his first birthday, Robert Frederick Smith was endowed with an inclusive vision of America’s future. The giver, was just an infant when his mom, Dr. Sylvia Myrna Smith, carried him to Washington, D.C. On August 28, 1963, the Smiths joined an estimated 250,000 demonstrators at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. They came by planes, trains, cars, and buses from all over the country. They left with one of nine inherited values of the Mary McLeod Bethune legacy, a community reinvestment by “the talented tenth.”
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s keynote speech drew on just enough history to motivate a reluctant U.S. Congress to act. But not before King’s transactional declaration, “In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check,” diverted to a kinder, gentler transformation to economic security for all.
At perhaps a defining crossroad between transactional and transformational leadership, noted African American gospel singer Mahalia Jackson shouted to Dr. King from the crowd, “Tell them about the dream, Martin,” King departed from his prepared remarks and started "preaching" extemporaneously, “I have a dream."
W.E.B. Du Bois used the term "the talented tenth" to describe the likelihood of one in ten black men becoming leaders of their race in the world, through methods such as continuing their education, writing books, or becoming directly involved in social change.
Du Bois strongly believed that blacks needed a classical education to be able to reach their full potential, rather than the industrial education promoted by the Atlanta compromise, endorsed by Booker T. Washington and some white philanthropists.
The Smith’s, and a generation of lesser known intellectuals are awakening from inherited perceptions that the struggle must continue.
“Welcome to Wakanda!” In this once mythical, magical, faraway place, poor children believe they can grow up less poor because billionaires chose to become richer at a slower pace. A modest $100 million beneficiary trust would encourage them to grow as beneficiaries and learn as trustees of their own inheritance.
Decoding the Cost of College
AMWS is learning that the net price for higher education paid by students and parents includes the full financial obligation for attending a given school. But in some cases, the way net price is presented may be unclear, leaving families wondering what their actual obligations are.
While financial aid in the form of gifts and scholarships reduces net price and the need for borrowing, information given to potential students about other types of aid can be misleading. A recent review of financial aid award letters found that some schools mischaracterized how student loans were incorporated into a student’s aid package, including 24 instances in which words other than loanwere used, and a number of letters in which parent loans were considered part of a financial aid award.*
In turn, this makes it harder to compare offers across schools when determining which school provides the best value—leading families to borrow more than they would have otherwise. * Stephen Burd, et al., “Decoding the Cost of College: The Case for Transparent Financial Aid Award Letters,” New America, June 5, 2018.