President Of The United Negro College Fund Says Org Received Massive Surge In Support Following George Floyd's Killing

ByTomas Kassahun

UNCF President and CEO, Michael L. Lomax, sat down with the “KIPP On Learning” podcast to discuss the uptick in donations as well as the significance of HBCUs.

The killing of George Floyd, which sparked nationwide protests during the summer and forced dozens of American entities to examine their roles in systemic racism, also fueled a wave of support for the United Negro College Fund.

Michael L. Lomax, UNCF President and CEO for more than 16 years, appeared on the December episode of the KIPP On Learning podcast and discussed the impact of the demonstrations.

“When George Floyd died, was murdered, something happened that I didn’t expect, and that is just people at every economic level, in every way of giving. I mean, 100,000 people have made contributions online to UNCF since his death,” Lomax said in the conversation with KIPP Co-Founder Dave Levin.

Lomax said donors expressed outrage over the tragedy and highlighted the need to support education in times of racial tension, particularly showing their desire to uplift historically black colleges and universities.

“We didn’t have to issue a statement about our commitment to Black lives,” Lomax said. “We didn’t have to issue a statement about our commitment to justice and equity. People just knew that. And they felt like if I’m going to do something productive and constructive about it, this is a place to do it.”

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, who joined Lomax on the podcast, donated $120 million to the UNCF, Spelman and Morehouse Colleges.

“We got to figure out how do we think about our current situation in America like a toxic waste dump, like Love Canal, which was a toxic waste dump that a school was built on in the 1960s,” Hastings said. “And ultimately, the government couldn’t figure out who to blame for it. So instead they created the super fund. This gigantic fund to work on cleaning up the toxic waste. Well, I think we need something like that. We’ve got to super fund this problem and have massive investment in schools, in housing, in employment.”

The Netflix CEO said people have to be more open-minded to understand that Black college students may have a better experience when they attend HBCUs, where they’re surrounded by Black excellence and placed in an environment where they get incredible confidence.

“I think to many people of my background, HBCUs seem like an anachronism because the dream is integration,” Hastings said. “The dream is everybody gets a shot at going to elite institutions that have been Predominantly White Institutions. So, it takes some opening of the mind to, it may be a better experience for many of our Black college students to be in an HBCU.”

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