Not everyone is pleased that Sean “Diddy” Combs plans to deliver the commencement speech at Howard University on May 10.
In fact, some black folks are actually scratching their heads in disbelief.
They took to Twitter to ask Howard University officials to explain their decision. Some argue that Howard should have selected a Howard graduate to deliver the high-profile address; others complain that Combs dropped out of Howard and should not be taken seriously.
“Can someone explain why Diddy, a person who never graduated from Howard, is speaking at graduation?” one person tweeted.
Even some current Howard University students are annoyed. There are reports that some are up in arms because Diddy failed to graduate and they believe he isn’t a worthy role model.
I don’t see the problem — and I agree with Howard University’s decision to invite him.
Combs – rapper, record producer, actor, and entrepreneur — is a phenomenal American success story who also happens to be Black.
The winner of three Grammy Awards, Combs runs all of his business interests under the company Bad Boy Entertainment Worldwide, which includes Bad Boy Records; the clothing lines Sean John & Sean by Sean Combs; a movie production company; and two restaurants.
Combs is also the recording executive, performer and producer on the MTV reality show Making the Band. According to Forbes, he’s the richest personality in hip-hop with an estimated net worth of $700 million.
And last year, Combs created an all-music TV channel, Revolt, hoping it would become the ESPN of music. It airs in about 20 million U.S. homes.
“Right now my focus is Revolt and making it the number one, most-trusted, most credible worldwide brand for music,” Combs told Forbes in a recent interview. “And to get Revolt to be the quintessential definition of real time. I think that’s the future.”
Combs, who attended Howard University in 1990, has plenty of knowledge and wisdom to share with seniors at Howard who are heading out to search for jobs in a highly-competitive global marketplace. While at Howard, Diddy commuted from D.C. to New York for a chance at working in the music business. When it paid off, he left school to pursue his dream of becoming an entrepreneur.
Who better to give Howard students first-rate advice and send them out into the world feeling confident about their journey?
As a successful businessman, Combs can speak about creating businesses that thrive. As a prosperous businessman, he can talk about money management, balancing the books, and staying on top of finances and as a mogul juggling multiple companies, Combs can stress the importance of time management.
Combs can also talk about why he founded Daddy’s House Social Programs, an organization to help inner-city youth that includes tutoring, life-skills classes, and an annual summer camp.
“We are honored to have Mr. Combs serve as our speaker,” Howard’s interim President Wayne A.I. Frederick said in a prepared statement. “His entrepreneurial spirit was sparked at Howard. We know he will inspire our class to work hard and to always strive for excellence.”
One final point: Some black folks are suggesting that Combs cut Howard a check before he leaves campus. It would be great if Combs would share some of his wealth with Howard University, but it’s not a requirement for his speech.
It’s no secret that Howard is experiencing fiscal challenges, like many other historically black colleges across the country.
A vice-chairwoman of Howard University’s board of trustees told the board in a report published last year that the school “is in genuine trouble” because of financial and management problems.
“Howard will not be here in three years if we don’t make some crucial decisions now,” Renee Higginbotham-Brooks wrote in her letter.
All Combs was asked to share was his life experiences, provide them with valuable guidance for the real world, and inspire them to reach their goals.
That should be enough.
What do you think?
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