Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley’s views on race relations may be problematic, but the retired athlete recognizes the importance of donating to historically Black colleges. On Tuesday, Nov. 29, he gave back to two in a huge way.
As part of the Giving Tuesday campaign, which encourages charity on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Barkley awarded $1 million to Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta and another $1 million to Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, Alabama. Barkley announced the donations on the “JOX Roundtable” radio show in Birmingham, Alabama.
— JOX Roundtable (@JOXRoundtable) November 29, 2016
CAU President Ronald A. Johnson welcomed Barkley’s donation. In a statement, he said the HBCU felt “delighted to receive this generous gift.” The contribution significantly boosted the university’s #GivingTuesday social media campaign.
“This gift reflects Charles Barkley’s tremendous heart and his desire to make a significant, positive and lasting difference in the lives of others,” Johnson said. “It is a testament to the importance of the transformative impact of CAU on its students, surrounding community, the nation and beyond.”
Barkley’s gift comes at a time when HBCUs have faced decreased funding. Because of that, Atlanta Black Star reported schools have resorted to opening their doors to non-Black students based on lowered budgets and dwindling enrollment. Additionally, beginning in 2009, the Obama administration announced it would cut HBCU budgets by as much as $85 million. Then, during Obama’s second term, changes in guidelines for receiving Plus Loans led to HBCUs losing $160 million.
The combined $2 million donations Barkley awarded CAU and AAMU give the historical schools the chance to continue to educate Black students.
However, while Barkley’s donations are celebrated, he continues to receive backlash over his comments regarding race.
In July, while calling into “The Dan Le Batard Show,” Barkley cited the supposed lack of respect among Black people as the reason why Blacks “can’t demand respect from white people and the cops.” More recently, during a Nov. 21 meeting at a church in Baltimore, Maryland, Barkley sparked outrage for suggesting the community, which has been ravaged by police brutality, should express sympathy for deceased officers.