Robert Frederick Smith received an honorary doctorate at Morehouse College, a historically black college and university (HBCU) in Atlanta on 19 May this year. He was the 135th commencement speaker for Morehouse College and his speech probably gave everyone, particularly the graduates the biggest shock of their lives.
"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."
— CNN (@CNN) May 20, 2019
The billionaire told the Morehouse graduates of the class of 2019 that he would repay their student loan. “This is my class, 2019 and my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans,” he said during his speech.
Robert’s gesture created a ripple effect particularly within the HBCU community, providing more opportunities for future generations.
US students left stunned as philanthropist Robert F Smith makes a special announcement at their graduation 🎓
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) May 20, 2019
He added, “I know my class would make sure they pay this forward. And I want my class to look at these alumnus, these beautiful Morehouse brothers and let’s make sure every class has the same opportunity going forward.”
It is estimated to cost about $40 million for such an undertaking.
"The best gift I've received in my life."
This lucky student is among an entire cohort who have had their debt cleared by US billionaire Robert Smith.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) May 21, 2019
As soon as Robert said this, everyone including the professors from Morehouse College stood up and cheered.
The crowd can also be heard chanting MVP. Well, he certainly was the MVP that day!
Here’s a great story: While we’ve still got a lot of work to do to make college affordable for everyone, that didn’t stop Robert F. Smith from seizing an opportunity to make a difference. He’s erasing the student loan debt for this year’s @Morehouse grads. https://t.co/I3X38Pbpjz
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) May 20, 2019
Robert F. Smith is a billionaire investor and philanthropist. He is the founder, chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, an investment firm which invests in software, data and technology-based companies.
Vista Equity Partners has a whopping $46 billion in cumulative capital commitments.
The philanthropist said in his speech, “You are responsible for building strong, safe places where our young brothers and sisters can grow with confidence, watch and learn from positive role models, and believe that, they too, are entitled to the American dream.”
“You are responsible for building strong, safe places where our young brothers and sisters can grow with confidence, watch and learn from positive role models, and believe that, they too, are entitled to the American Dream.” -Robert F. Smith @RFS_Vista #MorehouseGrad2019 pic.twitter.com/CeMs6CxQkq
— Morehouse College (@Morehouse) May 19, 2019
According to Forbes, The billionaire also made a $1.5 million gift to the college for scholarships and building a new park.
Robert F. Smith’s gesture attracted social media attention.
Wow. What a love-power move by Robert Smith. I believe it’s the start of something major. I’m grateful for what Mr. Smith, who purchased my father’s birth home for the National Park Service, is doing for @Morehouse, which happens to be Daddy’s alma mater. https://t.co/uRstRi49fr
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) May 19, 2019
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s daughter, Bernice King said on Twitter, “Wow. What a love-power move by Robert Smith. I believe it’s the start of something major.
“I’m grateful for what Mr. Smith, who purchased my father’s birth home from the National Park Service, is doing for @Morehouse, which happens to be Daddy’s alma mater.
Robert F. Smith’s gift to the Morehouse class of 2019 cut off the chain of poverty for some of the students & ensured that debt doesn’t begat poverty for others. It was a gift that doesn’t support an unjust system, but reminds that it’s unjust. That’s why some struggle with it.
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) May 22, 2019
Watch the whole thing in the video below!
Credit: Inside Edition