On the fifth day of National Black Business Month, we encourage making a contribution to an historically black college or university. The United Negro College Fund is the most notable fundraising arm for HBCUs, but there is also the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, designed to benefit public HBCUs.
Like civil rights organizations, HBCUs are the foundation of black progress. From engineers to doctors to lawyers, HBCUs produce more black graduates than the far more numerous other institutions of higher learning.
They could do a lot more, but manyare perpetually in need of operating and capital assistance. Perhaps your name isn’t Mellon or Morgan or Rockefeller.
However, anyone is more than capable of making a substantial legacy gift to an HBCU. As we explain in our book Blackmoney: Advanced Strategies for Maximizing the $1 Trillion Blacks Recieve Worldwide Yearly, an investment in life insurance can make anyone a philanthropist.
This is our reasoning. Everyone dies. Life isnurance pays a benefit upon death, or earlier. You don’t want to die, so you’re going to try to live as long as possible. During that battle with mortality, the value of the life insurance rises.
One of the misconceptions about the disparity in life expectancy for African-Americans is the belief that most blacks die early. Not so. We just don’t live as long as other Americans, but most of us will make into our 70s.
By then, one might have had several children and a horde of grandchildren,who will need an education to compete. If you want them to have the best opportunity, then making an estate gift to an historically black college and university is something every black person should consider. Whether you’re a janitor or a CEO, the most precious thing you have is your life, and you get to decide what it’s worth.
If every black person over the age of 80 who died last year had a $250,000 life insurance policy, it would have generated $10 billion in benefits. That’s more than enough to take care of families, churches and our HBCUs.
It’s no mystery that African-Americans began a mutual benefit society or insurance company the year before they started the A.M.E. Church. During the depths of Reconstruction, there was a proliferation of black life insurance companies, many of which still exist today such as North Carolina Mutual. Our poster for National Black Business Month shows a photo of an Emancipation Day parade in Richmond, VA in 1905 courtesy of Virginia Commonwealth University and the Jackson Ward National Historic District. The legend reads “The Most Important Thing We Can Do Right Now is What They Did Back Then–Support Black Businesses.”
Like those insurers, historically black colleges and universities are our insurance policy for educating the next generation of black leaders. In Walls Come Tumbling Down: State of Black Business, sixth edition, we note that the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act has allocated $9 million for HBCUs to participate in economic development activities for their communities.
We can put much more than to work in the hands of the dedicated educators who keep these traditions alive.