Durham-based businessman Greg Lindberg will provide $1 million in scholarship support to students attending historically black colleges in North Carolina.
The scholarships will support career development in international banking, and according to the News & Observer, supporters say the funds will play a significant role in enhancing awareness of the state’s public and private historically black institutions.
Five students each year who are interested in business or business-related fields and who enroll in one of the state’s 10 historically black colleges or universities will receive a lump-sum, $40,000 scholarship, amounting to $10,000 a year, said Larry Hall, state Military & Veterans Affairs secretary and chairman of the foundation. Lindberg committed to fund five scholarships each year for five years, Hall said.
“It brings attention to the value of HBCUs,” Hall said.
But there are two elements of the story which should stand out for HBCU advocates in the state and around the country. First, Lindberg’s political leanings.
He has given the state Republican Party $1.49 million since last August. He has given a super PAC that supports Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest $1 million, and the N.C. Republican Council of State Committee, which Forest runs, more than $1.4 million. He contributed $250,000 to the state Democratic Party this year, and is the sole donor to a new political committee that can make independent expenditures.
And second, the bipartisan nature of how this support came to fruition.
State Sen. Floyd McKissick, a Durham Democrat, said he and Lindberg spoke in January about the burden of student debt and “how many students drop out of school because of debt.”
Why are these two areas important? They underscore the growing nature of Democrats and Republicans working together to benefit HBCUs. A Durham Democratic lawmaker works with a high-profile Republican donor to support HBCUs, much in the same way that the conservative-leaning Charles Koch Foundation has given more than $50 million in support to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and United Negro College Fund.
And these partnerships are the backdrop to the federal bi-partisan and bi-cameral HBCU Caucus, which has pushed for loan forgiveness and appropriation amendments for HBCUs which has impacted budgets and policy-making on Capitol Hill.
People who care deeply about HBCUs are debating the merits of what diversity means on our campuses, how much we do or should despise the Trump Administration, and how much we should trust conservatives on helping HBCUs. All of these debates are important and should help to distill who should be believed, or at least leveraged to benefit our schools and political interests.
But we should also be willing to meet and greet a variety of voices trying to earn a stake in our communities. It is difficult to advocate for HBCU campuses but then to distance ourselves from potential areas and groups of support for sociopolitical reasons.
Conservatives and HBCU campuses may never have political synergy, but they will always have connectivity in the desire to build revenue-bearing communities where citizens can develop stronger systems of independence for themselves and for future generations.