In Atlanta, billionaire investor Robert F. Smith stunned students at Morehouse College when he announced in his commencement speech Sunday he would pay off the student debt of the entire graduating class.
Robert F. Smith: “Let’s make sure every class has the same opportunity going forward, because we are enough to take care of our own community. We are enough to ensure we have all the opportunities of the American dream. And we will show it to each other through our actions and through our words and through our deeds.”
Robert F. Smith is the founder of investment firm Vista Equity Partners and is the richest black man in America, according to Forbes.
One of the graduating seniors at the historically black Morehouse College is DeJaun Correia, the nephew of Troy Davis, who was executed by the state of Georgia in 2011 despite major doubts about evidence used to convict him of killing a police officer. Ben Jealous, former head of the NAACP, who championed Troy Davis’s case, tweeted, “Congrats Dejuan! Junior year HS grandma died. You mourned & kept studying. Senior year HS Uncle Troy was executed despite his innocence. You went back to work wiring jets. That same year your mom died: cancer. You graduated on time. Today: You’re a #MorehouseGrad2019! Celebrate!”
The total amount of debt owed by the 396 graduating students reportedly amounts to up to $40 million. Experts have warned about the mounting student debt crisis for years. Nationwide, 44 million people owe nearly $1.5 trillion in student debt. The average debt per student with federal loans is $32,000.