If you haven’t already heard, something wonderful and very important happened on Sunday. After receiving his honorary doctorate at Morehouse College, billionaireRobert F. Smith, the technology investor and philanthropist, basically freaked out everyone by announcing that his family was providing a grant to eliminate the student debt of the entire Class of 2019.
“This is my class,” he said, “and I know my class will pay this forward.”
Say what?! Yeah, the announcement came as a humongous surprise to Smith’s staff as well as the staff at Morehouse, and you know it got thje biggest response of the morning from the crowd.
As far as Smith is concerned, in his commencement address, he used the metaphor of simply being on a bus headed for success was good … but warned it wasn’t enough.
“You want to own it, you want to drive it, and you want to pick up as many people as you can along the way.” He charged the Class of 2019 with doing its part to improve the lives of black America. “I’m putting some fuel into your bus, “ he said. “I’m counting on you to load up that bus.”
Also receiving an honorary degree Sunday was Oscar-nominated actress and activist Angela Bassett, who referenced Morehouse graduate the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and suggested that the Class of 2019 might emulate him, but take their own path.
“I want you to proudly walk in your own shoes,” she said, “and you know what it’s like when you get a new pair of shoes? I want you to be uncomfortable, I want you to be mindful, I want you to be wary.”