Singer and actor Tyrese Gibson recently made headlines when he offered to pay a young man’s Morehouse College tuition; an act that was graciously accepted by 21-year-old Lorenzo Murphy, also known as the popular Instagram personality “Zo the Motivator.”
Last night, Black Entertainment Television held its 15th annual BET Awards celebration, honoring musical legends Janet Jackson and Smokey Robinson, as well as radio and television personality Tom Joyner with special tributes and awards. Jason Derulo, Ciara and Tinashe did a tribute in dance to Jackson before she received her Ultimate Icon Award from longtime producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.
Performances by Alicia Keys,Janelle Monae, Jidenna, Kendrick Lamar, Tyga and Chris Brown, to name a few, also energized the event, and it was no surprise when Best Acting awards went to deserving “Empire” darlings Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson. To see the full list of winners, read below:
Best New Artist Sam Smith
Best Male Hip-Hop Artist Kendrick Lamar
Common Big Sean
Best Female Hip-Hop Artist Nicki Minaj
Best Actor Terrence Howard
Best Female R&B/Pop Artist Beyoncé
HBCU Xavier University of Louisiana will hold its third annual Give. Love. Xavier Day – an online, social media-driven fundraising event – from 12:00 a.m. to midnight, June 2nd.
The event encourages alumni and friends to come together for one day to show their support for the University with financial contributions. Participants are encouraged to post about the event via social networks (such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) to spread the excitement and encourage their friends and followers to give. Conversations also are encouraged by sharing the hashtag #GLXU15, connecting to @XULAalumni website, and visitinghttp://www.xula.edu/giveloveto pledge and see real-time results.
This year’s theme is, “Thank You, Dr. Francis”, in honor of retiring XU President Dr. Norman Francis.
Dr. Kenneth St. Charles, XU Vice President for Institutional Advancement, said all gifts made online that day go directly to the Annual Fund, which supports scholarships and other important University programs. The donor goal for this year’s campaign is 2,470 individuals.
“Members of the Xavier community coming together like this showcases the spirit of our University,” St. Charles said. “Part of our mission is to prepare students to assume roles of leadership and service in the global society and these alumni are taking on the responsibility of preserving that tradition. Their donations to the Annual Fund make a vital difference in the lives of current students.”
Tom Joyner, chairman and founder of the Tom Joyner Foundation, said, “I’m hoping alumni, friends, family and other supporters, will show some love by making a gift to Xavier. This is a great way to help out this great HBCU.”
Last year a total of $275,100 was contributed by nearly 1,200 donors, far surpassing the $120,000 collected in the inaugural year of the event.
A key element of Give. Love. Xavier Day is the use of alumni captains to spur interest among fellow alumni, as well as the establishment of key Challenge Grant incentives: dollar for dollar matches that are realized when alumni and friends made their donations on Give. Love. Xavier Day. This year’s event has nearly $135,000 in matching challenge grants which will only be realized if Xavierites and friends make gifts on June 2nd.
“All of last year’s Challenge Grant Initiatives were met,” said Kim Reese, XU Director of Alumni Relations. “Those matches brought in an extra $90,000 in pledges, making many of our donor dollars twice as impactful!”
This week, radio host and philanthropist Tom Joyner (pictured) appeared on Piers Morgan Live to explain why he felt moved to offer friend and star witness in the George Zimmerman trial Rachel Jeantel (pictured below) a free college education at any Historically Black College or University (HBCU) of her choosing. According to Joyner, both the media’s and lawyer’s treatment of Jeantel inspired him to make a lasting impact on her her future. (Video of Jeantel accepting offer below.)
For Joyner, seeing the barrage of criticism Jeantel received while she was on the stand disturbed him,“Well, it all started of course at the trial. And when she testified, the reaction to her testimony was very troubling to me. People were criticizing her and her education and communication skills. The way the lawyer was just beating her up on the stand just really moved me.”
Still, Joyner didn’t get the idea to offer her a college scholarship until she appeared on the “Piers Morgan Live” show Monday night, “And then last night when I saw her on your show, you did a follow-up question that [asked her] what do you want to do in life.
“That’s when the light bulb went off. I said I want to help her. We have a foundation that helps students in historically black colleges and universities. The Tom Joyner Foundation has been around since ’98 and since then, we’ve donated and raised more than $65 million to that end.”
To Joyner, seeing Jeantel being still in high school at the age of 19 and struggling with the tragic death of friend Trayvon made him come to one conclusion: “She deserves a chance. All this criticism about, you know, how the system has failed her or she’s failed the system. She’s 19 years old and she’s a senior in high school. Right, OK. So in the past year-and-a-half her life has been turned upside down. She’s been back and forth with depositions and appointments and everything, plus sad about her best friend being killed. So her senior year is all a wreck.”
When Piers Morgan asked Joyner whether he thinks Jeantel will manage in college, Joyner responded that he and his team are willing to do the work to get her ready, “It’s going to take some work, first of all, to get her high school diploma and get her ready for the SAT test … and then entered in to college. But we are going to do that…I told her she can go to any historically black college she wants to.”
Throughout the Trayvon Martin case, Rachel Jeantel‘s testimony was riveting and difficult to watch for many reasons, including defense attorney Don West’s obvious frustration with her and condescension toward her. Jeantel was the last person to speak to Trayvon Martin before being killed by George Zimmerman who was found not guilty on July 13. Jeantel was deemed by the defense and the media as an implausible source due to her ‘lack of education.’ The 19-year-old was berated by many due to her speech, appearance and mannerisms. Fortunately her testimony and recent appearance on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight,” influenced Tom Joyner to lend a helping hand.
Joyner reached out to Jeantel and offered her a full scholarship to any HBCU of her choice. In addition to assisting the young teen with college, he also wants to help her complete high school with the best tutors and SAT courses. Jeantel hopes to pursue a career in law enforcement.