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Billionaire businessman makes huge surprise announcement at Morehouse commencement

(Image source: Live stream screenshot)

Billionaire businessman makes huge surprise announcement at Morehouse commencement

So about those student loans...

Billionaire Robert F. Smith is the chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, a technology investment firm. That is, he is in the business of creating more business. He's what you would call an investment banker, a very maligned term in the 21st century. He's also a philanthropist and a former chemical engineer and therefore, in other words, the very picture of capitalist success.

Smith was named one of Forbes magazine's 100 "greatest living business minds" in 2017, and in 2018 Forbes declared him "The Nation's Wealthiest African-American" over even Oprah Winfrey's fortune.

Morehouse, an all-male, historically black college in Georgia, awarded Smith an honorary doctorate and had him as the commencement speaker at Sunday's graduation ceremony. And in his address, he made an amazing announcement to the gathered graduates.

"This is my class, 2019," he said. "And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans."


The way the reaction builds as what he just said really sinks is truly awesome.

"I know my class will make sure they pay this forward," he said. "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.

The value of the tremendous gift, in dollars, is estimated at about $40 million. But of course the value extends well beyond that. Generosity, giving back, and setting an example are incalculable rewards on their own.

On social media, as news spread, there were both waves of gratitude and admiration, as well as people hoping this would set an example for others of means to similarly unburden other students.

Naturally, though, there were Debbi Downers, too. Including the most usual suspect of all, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

So thanks for ruining it, AOC. Every party has a pooper that's why we invited Democratic Socialists, I guess.

In any case, it's the first good news story about a commencement address in a long time.

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Caleb Howe

Caleb Howe