In an astonishing display of generosity, billionaire Robert F. Smith announced that his family is providing grants to wipe out the student debt of the entire 2019 class at Morehouse College.

Smith made the announcement while giving a commencement speech at the all-male historically black college in Atlanta, Georgia on Sunday, May 19. It was met by an enthusiastic cheer from the 400 graduating seniors.

“My family is going to create a grant to eliminate your student loans,” Smith said. According to the college, Smith pledges to donate $40 million to the graduates.


Smith is the founder of Vista Equity Partners, a private equity firm with over $46 billion in assets.

While Smith’s donation is an incredible show of generosity, it also highlights the tremendous burdens faced by millions of many college and trade-school graduates. Americans owe $1.4 trillion in college debt. That’s more than they owe on car loans or credit cards.

The average college senior now owes $29,000 in student loan debt and the average bachelor’s degree holder takes 21 years to pay off their loans.

Student debt prevents young Americans from starting businesses, buying homes, or saving for retirement. It also forces them to make hasty career decisions so they can stay afloat.

Freshman Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez used Smith’s generous donation to highlight the student debt crisis.

She also saw the donation as an experiment to see how debt-free graduates behave as opposed to those who leave college under extreme financial stress.

Ocasio-Cortez campaigned in favor of creating tuition free college and trade schools as well as eliminating all student debt. It’s an issue that's close to home for her, because she’s still paying off her degree from Boston College where she graduated in 2011.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders echoed Ocasio-Cortez's statement at a town hall in Montgomery, Alabama.

"A very kind gentleman, a billionaire, forgave the debts of students at Morehouse," the Democratic presidential candidate said. "What he did was very generous, but the truth is that private charity alone is not going to solve a problem in which some 40 million Americans are struggling with right now."

"The time again is long overdue to stop the punishment of millions of people who did nothing wrong except try to get the best education that they could," he continued.

via Jeremy Hogan / YouTube

Vauhxx Booker, a civil rights activist from Bloomington, Indiana, claims that a group of white men threatened to lynch him during an altercation on July 4 near Lake Monroe, but he was saved by onlookers who intervened.

Video taken during the incident shows he was held down by a group of men who pinned him to a tree in a wooded area. Booker says that while he was being held down, the men threatened to break his arms, repeatedly said "get a noose," and told his friends to leave the area.

The men later let him go after being confronted by onlookers who gathered at the scene.

The incident began, according to Booker, when he and his friends were making their way to the lake to see the lunar eclipse when a white man on an ATV told them they were trespassing. When Booker and his friends continued to walk to the lake, the man on the ATV and his friends allegedly shouted "white power" at them, which is when things turned violent.

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