Former NBA star Charles Barkley donated $1 million to Miles College, an historically Black college (HBCU), in Alabama, his home state. The gift is just the latest Barkley has made to an HBCU, with past donations made to Alabama A&M, Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse College.
Barkley, a Basketball Hall of Famer, informed Miles College interim president Bobbie Knight about the donation on January 8, according to The Associated Press. Knight, who was named interim president in July, is the first woman to lead Miles College.
“I’ve gotten to know Bobbie over the last year and it was something I really wanted to do,” Barkley said. “To have a female president is a big deal. I want to help Bobbie be as successful as she can be.”
Barkley’s $1 million gift is the largest donation by a donor in the 122-year history of the Fairfield, Alabama school, USA Today reported. Knight said the donation will jumpstart the school’s $100 million fundraising campaign.
“It’s great that Mr. Barkley thinks enough of Miles College to donate a million dollars,” Knight said in a statement. “This gift lays the foundation for our $100 million dollar comprehensive campaign.”
Miles College, which was founded in 1898, is the only four-year institution in historic Birmingham, Alabama that is designated as an HBCU. The school noted in its statement that Barkley plans to do economic development around the Birmingham and nearby Leeds area in 2020 through 2021.
Major Donations to HBCUs
Barkley’s donation to Miles College is part of his larger commitment to support HBCUs. Other celebrities have also pledged to support the network of historically Black institutions, which have seen a rise in donations. HBCU Digest reported in 2018 that HBCUs have seen a boost in private giving since 2015 after a brief drop between 2012 and 2014.
In October 2019, Oprah Winfrey increased her personal endowment at Morehouse College when she donated $13 million. The multi-million donation was in addition to the $12 million that Oprah had already pledged in 1989, according to Black Enterprise. That year, the TV host, actor and philanthropist launched the Oprah Winfrey Endowed Scholarship Fund.
Papa John’s founder and former CEO John Schnatter donated $1 million to Simmons College in Kentucky in September 2019. “John is making and will continue to make an important difference,” Rev. Kevin Cosby, the school’s president, said in a statement. “His support will have a profound impact on Simmons’ capacity to serve our city, state and nation.”
One of the most surprising donations was made by billionaire Robert F. Smith, who announced he would pay off the student debt of the nearly 400 graduating seniors at Morehouse College in May 2019. Smith, the richest Black person in the U.S., said he and his family were establishing a grant to eliminate the class of 2019’s student loans. Early estimates indicate the gift cost Smith approximately $40 million.
- The North Star Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Education Plan Will Help Fund HBCUs
- The North Star HBCU Offers Displaced University of Bahamas Students A Free Semester
- The North Star New Study Reveals The Impact of Racism on HBCU Finances
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas.