Little Bits of History

April 25

Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 25, 2017

1944: The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) is founded. Frederick D Patterson, president of the Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) worked with Mary McLeod Bethune and others to help raise money for disadvantaged students to reach their potential. Opportunities for Negros were curtailed and leaders in the community found a way to help finance college educations for those deserving poor. The UNCF united college presidents from traditionally Black Colleges to raise funds through an “appeal to the national conscience.” William Trent served as the first executive director and the long-time activist was able to raise $78 million dollars in the twenty years he was at the helm.

Mary McLeod Bethune was the child of former slaves and born in Mayesville, South Carolina. Even though she began her life working in the fields of her parents’ farm, she longed for a greater education and achieved her dream with the help of benefactors. She hoped to be a missionary in Africa. Instead, she brought her drive and commitment to bettering the educational hopes of black girls, first by opening a school in Daytona Beach, Florida and later by helping found this organization to bring the chance of higher education to all those willing to work to achieve their dreams.

UNCF is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and helps to finance higher education for all ethnicities, although the greatest number of recipients are African-Americans. There are 37 member Colleges and Universities but worthy students can receive money even if attending other institutions. Some of the most prominent recipients of UNCF’s help have been Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Spike Lee, Samuel L Jackson, Alexis Herman (former Secretary of Labor), General Chappie James (the US Air Force’s first black four star general), and Dr. David Satcher (former US Surgeon General and director of the CDC).

Fundraising has always been part of the UNCF’s mission. John F Kennedy donated the prize money from his Pulitzer Prize for Profiles in Courage to the Fund. The largest donation ever made came from Walter Annenberg (publisher and philanthropist) in 1990 when he donated $50 million. Lou Rawls began a telethon in 1980 first called “Lou Rawls Parade of Stars” and now known as “An Evening of Stars” with the goal of raising monies for the UNCF. Usually present are some of the successful African-Americans who have received aid from UNCF or graduated from one of the participating Colleges or Universities. The event has raised hundreds of millions of dollars. Over 10,000 scholarships totaling over $100 million are awarded each year. Dr. Michael Lomax is the current CEO.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste. – UNCF slogan

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. – Nelson Mandela

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. – Malcolm X



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