Soul move puts graduating class in black

Central Station | 21 May 2019

Sunday was already a day of joy and pride for the graduating class at historically black Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia - and then it got a whole lot better.

Robert Smith, an African-American businessman with a fortune estimated at US$4.4 billion (HK$34.3 billion), told the new graduating class he plans to pay off the entirety of their student debt: an estimated US$40 million.

Smith said, "I know my class will pay this forward" and help improve the lives of other black Americans.

Smith this year gave a US$1.5 million donation to the school, but Sunday's news came as a surprise even to staff at Morehouse.

It was the biggest gift in the history of the school, whose graduates include Martin Luther King Jr, filmmaker Spike Lee and actor Samuel L Jackson.

Smith, a graduate of Cornell and Columbia universities, by 2015 had become the richest African-American, with a fortune surpassing billionaire celebrity (and fellow Morehouse donor) Oprah Winfrey.

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