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In May, he pledged to pay off $34 million of loans for its graduating class.

His commencement address in May offered the usual inspirational platitudes and advice to serve the common good. But then Smith—whose personal worth is about $6 billion, according to Bloomberg data, which makes him the wealthiest black American—followed up with something no one expected. “On behalf of eight generations of my family that have been in this country, we’re gonna put a little fuel in your bus,” he said. “This is the challenge to you, alumni. This is my class—2019. And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans.” The money will cover both public and private loans for the students of the historically black men’s college. Parents who borrowed on behalf of their kids will also be repaid.


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