- by Dorothy Bracy Alston
Special to The New Tri-State Defender
Beyoncé Knowles is a multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning recording artist who loves HBCUs. In the blink of an eye, Beyoncé has brought national attention to a historical jewel that’s been in its public space since 1856.
Wilberforce University was founded at that time by the African American Episcopal (AME) Church, who’s happy to announce being a recipient of Beyoncé’s BeyGOOD Foundation’s newly established Homecoming Scholars Award Program for the 2018-2019 academic year.
This $25,000 scholarship will allow one student to enjoy a year’s worth of free academic training for study in various fields: literature, creative arts, African-American studies, science, education, business, communications, social sciences, computer science and engineering; providing they maintain a 3.5 GPA or above. Beyoncé’s announcement was strategic and intentional.
The history making 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival received national media exposure when Beyoncé became the first Black woman to headline the festival’s 19-year run. Beyoncé saw a promotional opportunity for HBCUs, she said, but now she wants more focus on historical institutions, than on the performance itself.
Education and culture of HBCUs was the dominating theme of this historic performance. It was a celebration of the homecoming weekend experience, spotlighting art and culture, through the marching band, performance art, choir and dance, but also giving homage to excellence in education.
“We salute the rich legacy of Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” said Ivy McGregor, director of Philanthropy and Corporate Relations at Parkwood Entertainment, which houses BeyGOOD. “We honor all institutions of higher learning for maintaining culture and creating environments for optimal learning which expands dreams and the seas of possibilities for students.”
But a hardy thanks goes to Beyoncé’s BeyGOOD Foundation for BeyingGOOD to Wilberforce University as one of the four HBCUs to receive equal portions of this $100,000 scholarship award.
Without Beyoncé’s generous gift and bighearted recognition of Wilberforce University as an HBCU receiving this tribute, there’s no way Wilberforce could have garnered this type of national attention, in spite of the fact that it is the first privately owned HBCU operated by African Americans. Wilberforce University is located at 1055 N Bickett Rd, Wilberforce, OH 45384.
All finalists and winners for the BeyGOOD scholarship will be selected by the universities. Winners will be announced this summer.
Beyoncé is pro-HBCUs and is making its presence part of her foundation’s mission, as well as her performance platform. Wilberforce University Alumni Association Memphis Chapter is actively recruiting students for the 2018 academic year.
How would you like to go to a school that Beyoncé’s Knowles has supported financially and believes its worthy of national respect? Beyoncé’s father, Mathew Knowles is also a proud graduate of an HBCU. Professor Crystal A. deGregory of Kentucky State University says it best, “For members of the HBCU community, it is a source of affirmation of all that we know and love about the HBCU experience.”
NOTE: Google.org, the charitable arm of the tech giant, has announced it will match Beyoncé’s donation and will add four of its own $25,000 grants. Students at Texas Southern University, Fisk University, Grambling State University, and Morehouse College will now be able to apply for the Homecoming Scholars grant.