BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The phones are ringing off the hook at the United Negro College Fund offices in Birmingham in the wake of one man's pledge to eliminate hundreds of student's college debt.
While much of the country was stunned by billionaire Robert Smith’s surprise declaration at Morehouse College Sunday, he has a history of giving to UNCF say those attached to the organization.
Talladega College President Dr. Billy Hawkins says Smith has given over $100,000,000 - generosity for which Smith was honored during the organization’s 75th anniversary gathering in March.
But during his remarks at Morehouse Sunday, Smith challenged alumni to give and suggested the African Americans have the capacity to ensure students education.
Hawkins and presidents of other UNCF schools in Mississippi and Alabama who gathered for an event at Birmingham’s City Club Tuesday say they agree.
“It may not be at the $40,000,000 mark, but there are enough people in our graduate body to provide scholarships for needy students if they would just give on a monthly basis,” said Rust College President Dr. David Bleckley.
Talladega’s Hawkins told those gathered Tuesday night that Smith, a tech investor and philanthropist, has been generous to UNCF because he saw his mother write $25 monthly checks to the organization when he was a child.
Hawkins says he’s heard Smith explain that when he asked his mother why she wrote the checks, she said “to help some black child to achieve and education”.