Talk about a “flex” for the culture.
In a commencement speech this past Sunday, billionaire investor Robert F. Smith spoke to the Morehouse College 2019 graduating class and made a promise to pay off their student loan debt.
— Robert F. Smith (@RFS_Vista) May 19, 2019
“On behalf of the eight generations of my family who have been in this country, we’re going to put a little fuel in your bus,” said the richest Black man in America.
After announcing his family was creating a grant to eliminate their student loans, Smith continued, “Now, I know my class will make sure they pay this forward…”
“I want my class to look at these (alumni) — these beautiful Morehouse brothers — and let’s make sure every class has the same opportunity going forward because we are enough to take care of our own community. We are enough to ensure we have all the opportunities of the American dream.”
Student loan debt is an issue plaguing the bank accounts of young Americans who are seeking the benefits of obtaining a degree from collegiate institutions.
According to research conducted by Student Loan Hero, there are 44.7 million Americans with student loan debt. Another surprising stat, Americans owe over $1.56 trillion in student loan debt.
That’s $521 billion more than the total U.S. credit card debt. Damn, right? Obviously, this is a very serious issue as more students look to graduate college. Debt can make it hard to progress in a world where the almighty dollar is king and the key to stability.
Simply put if money is the key, debt is the chains. In a way, the youth who want to better society and use their knowledge to do so should be given the opportunity. Furthermore, all should be granted or at least given a chance to reap the benefits of the American dream.
Coming up Robert F. Smith was lucky enough to have both parents in his life and both were educated. Still, to get where he is today wasn’t easy but his $5 billion fortune and playboy model wife prove that the American dream is within reach.
It took ambition, a respect for knowledge, and undying love for his people that has allowed him to accomplish the things he has done today. Additionally, his parents ingrained acts of philanthropy into his mindset from a young age.
In an interview with David Rubenstein, Smith recalled
“I saw my mother write a $25 check to the United Negro College Fund every month growing up… I saw my father, who was on the board and ran the local YMCA, and how he contributed time and energy and intellectual capacity on raising funds… All through my life growing up, philanthropic endeavors were a part of my family’s dynamic.”
Along with paying off 396 Morehouse College 2019 students’ loan debt, Robert F. Smith has also donated $1.5 million to the HBCU and made numerous contributions to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture.
Additionally, he is the co-founder of Lincoln Hills Cares, a ranch dedicated to helping the underserved youth populations in the Denver Metro area.
Still, what Smith did for those Morehouse graduates is definitely one for the books. Let’s hope this starts a trend to liberate the youth and allow them to truly chase their dreams and passions.
The proof is in the testimonies. Charles Releford an aspiring illustrator who accumulated around $70,000 in loan debt told CNN,
“I’m really excited to see where my life can go now because all different avenues are open now so I’m not held down. There’s no burden, student loans — I’m debt-free.”