WASHINGTON, April 26, 2019 — UNCF (United Negro College Fund) yesterday celebrated its 75thanniversary with a special event at the organization’s headquarters in Washington, DC. What began as an urgent call to action from Dr. Frederick Douglass Patterson, the then-president of Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University), to fellow presidents of historically black colleges and universities, has grown into the nation’s largest minority education organization supporting 37 member institutions and nearly a half-million students’ achievement of a college degree.
President and CEO Dr. Michael L. Lomax spoke to a crowd of member HBCU representatives, corporate partners, staff and UNCF supporters about the organization’s rich history, the innovation of HBCUs and UNCF’s path toward the next 25 years. “Today is UNCF’s 75th anniversary. UNCF’s 75 years testify to the power of partnerships to build better futures for our youth and for our nation.” Lomax continued, saying, “Since our founding in 1944, UNCF has had two major focuses—our HBCUs and our students. We are more committed and more determined than ever to call on Congress, the federal administration and our nation to act on behalf of HBCUs and the students we serve, believing as we do in the power of our cause and our shared belief that ‘a mind is a terrible thing to waste, but a wonderful thing to invest in.'”
Following Dr. Lomax, Dr. Billy Hawkins, president of the oldest HBCU in Alabama, Talladega College, reiterated that HBCUs are still very relevant today and make a difference for students who otherwise may not have the ability to get to and through college. Hawkins commended UNCF for its pursuit of helping students, particularly those who cannot afford college tuition, and for UNCF’s commitment to providing HBCUs “a national platform to stand on.”
The event was also attended by long-time corporate supporter, Wells Fargo. Sharon Murphy, executive vice president and chief information officer for Wells Fargo, spoke of the importance Wells Fargo places on philanthropy and higher education and acknowledged UNCF’s advocacy for HBCUs. The corporation has supported UNCF for 20 years—donating volunteer time and funding toward scholarships and UNCF programs.
The event culminated with scholarships awarded to 37 rising college freshmen—all attending one of UNCF’s member institutions. One of the lucky scholarship winners, Roque Lorenzo, headed for Lane College in Jackson, TN, explained in his scholarship application that, “I am now given the opportunity to attend Lane College. With hard work and the dedication of going to college, getting this scholarship would be a blessing. I have worked for the past two years saving all I have so I can attend college.”
Invited guests were able to view historical memorabilia which included images of past UNCF presidents, notable supporters and various UNCF PSA campaigns the organization has released in years past. In March, the United StatesSenate unanimously passed Senate Resolution 106 which commemorates UNCF’s 75th anniversary. Congratulatory videos were also shared with UNCF by well-known supporters including U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, singer Anthony Hamiltonand actor Tommy Davidson.
The 75-year milestone provides a unique opportunity to reflect on the evolution of UNCF over the years and celebrate its impact on higher education for minority students. To date UNCF:
- Helped more than 450,000 students attain a college degree
- Annually supports more than 60,000 students attending 1,100 colleges
- Annually awards 10,000 scholarships to deserving students
For complete details on UNCF’s history, visit https://www.uncf.org/the-latest/75-years-strong-highlights-from-uncfs-history/. Visit UNCF.org to make a donation to the UNCF Day of Giving campaign that seeks to provide 75 HBCU students with $5,000 scholarships to pursue their academic and professional goals.