Billionaire Gives Morehouse Graduates Surprise of Their Lives


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Smith on the left on the day he told Morehouse of his life changing donation.

Takier George '20, Staff Writer

On May 19th, 2019 Robert F. Smith, a philanthropist and billionaire, gave a commencement speech that changed the lives of 396 Morehouse seniors. During the HBCU’s (Historically Black College/University) 2019 graduation ceremony, Smith announced that he would be paying off ALL of the graduating class’ students loans. The debt adds up to about forty million dollars.

CNN quoted Smith saying, “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.”  The grant that is being created by his family would eliminate the debt of the Morehouse graduates. CNN also said Smith continued his heartfelt speech by saying, “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.”

It was a busy Sunday for Smith. On top of paying off student loans, he also donation 1.5 million dollars to the school as a gift and received an Honorary doctorate as a graduate of Morehouse. Los Angeles Development Church and Institution said, “an honorary doctoral degree is often awarded in recognition of one’s life experiences….This means that the degree is bestowed as an honor rather than through the completion of certain academic requirements.” So, Smith was a part of the group as well. AJC quoted Smith, “This is my class, and I know my class will pay this forward.”

Smith lent a helping hand to the black men of Morehouse college, but he has also helped in the advancement of many more causes. He has donated money to Cornell, towards their search for a cancer cure and their arts program. CNN said, “His Fund II Foundation provides grants under five pillars: preserving the African-American experience, safeguarding human rights, conserving the environment, providing music education and sustaining critical American values such as entrepreneurialism.”

This is the definition of Black Excellence! Robert F. Smith’s generosity and compassion for people shows a lot about the billionaire’s character, and hopefully, more people follow his lead.