Roland Martin talks to Dr. Michael Lomax, President of the UNCF about their controversial decision to accept a $25M donation from known Republicans the Koch Brothers.
“Koch Industries has been a supporter of the UNCF for over a decade. We have 100,000 donors annually and we have donors that represent a broad cross-section of politics in America. But they believe in one thing — helping kids go to college,” Lomax said.
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ROLAND MARTIN: Tom, you know, a lot of people hear about the Koch brothers, if you follow politics. Of course these mega billionaires are very conservative, libertarian. Do not like President Barack Obama. The oppose lots of other progressive policies. But they recently announced they were giving $25 million dollars to the UNCF. And folks have been on social media saying the UNCF is selling out black people while they’re taking their money. So we said let’s call up Dr. Michael Lomax. He was obviously involved in this, get his thoughts on it. And so Dr. Lomax joins us right now. Doc, how are you doing?
MICHAEL LOMAX: I’m fine, Roland. How are you?
ROLAND MARTIN: Doing great. So people are criticizing you and the UNCF. So take us through this. How did this come about? Have you been talking to them for months? How did this $25 million dollar donation come about?
MICHAEL LOMAX: Well, first of all Koch Industries has been a supporter of UNCF for the last decade since they’ve purchased Georgia Pacific in 2005. And they’ve supported our scholarship programs with about a million and a half dollars in gifts over that period of time. Because so many of our institutions have students who need scholarship support, and because UNCF has to turn down nine out of every ten applicants that we receive scholarship requests from, and you know, that’s about 100,000 students a year. We reward 12,000 scholarships worth over $100 million dollars a year, but we turn down nine out of ten qualified applicants. So we’re on a real tier to get more scholarship support for our students? And we’ve reached out to all of our supporters, including Koch Industries and asked them to increase their giving. And we started the conversations with this company almost two years ago. We have now announced as of last Friday a comprehensive scholarship program; $5,000 a year to students attending UNCF and other institutions. They’ll get mentorships. They’ll attend a conference. But they’ll get the dollars that they need to go to college. And in addition to that it will be supporting graduate and Ph.D. level students as well with a larger stipend. And they’ll making support, giving support directly to HBC’s $4 million dollars, $2 million dollars this year, $2 million dollars next year, to help address some of the losses that our colleges experience because of the Parent Plus Loan decision.
ROLAND MARTIN: Doc, is it important for people to understand that, look, you might disagree with someone politically, but your job is to raise money to send folks to school.
MICHAEL LOMAX: Absolutely. Look, Roland, we have 100,000 donors annually. We don’t know all of their points of view on every political issue and I suspect that our donors represent a broad cross section of politics in America. But they believe in one (chuckle) thing; they believe in helping kids go to college. And that’s all we do. And we ask every donor, and we ask all Americans to support our cause – you know, we’ve never said (clears throat) or used a litmus test, a political litmus test to evaluate donors. We said; will you help with this cause? We’ve had bipartisan support, we’ve had conservative support, we’ve had liberal support. But most important we’ve had the dollars that we need to help kids. But the need is so great now that we’ve to get even more donors. And that’s why this gift is important.
TOM JOYNER: Yeah, I don’t mind.
ROLAND MARTIN: Well – say it again, Tom?
TOM JOYNER: I said I don’t mind.
ROLAND MARTIN: Tell you what, Doc. Don Sterling got a couple of extra billion now, you might want to give him a shout.
MICHAEL LOMAX: We’re still asking.
ROLAND MARTIN: (Laugh)
SYBIL WILKES: Donald Sterling is so done with black folks now. (Laugh)
ROLAND MARTIN: I tell you what, Doc, you’re absolutely right. And also, look, a lot of people buy, you know, they own Dixie Cups, Quiltern Northern tissue paper, stuff along those lines, so at the end of the day your job is to raise money, you know, here’s what it is and here’s the deal. You could say; thanks, Koch, for the money, we’re still going to go after you when it comes to politics. That’s the beat of America. Dr. Lomax, we appreciate it, thanks a lot.