Imagine a sawmill owner doing something that had not much to do with his core, primary business.
Imagine that guy deciding that, for the good of the community, he wanted to do something big, something that would have lasting impact.
Imagine a white man helping black farmers and others who had struggled to keep a small academic institution going from 1901 into the 1940s and deciding to donate land to the North Louisiana Agricultural and Industrial School, a school for African-Americans in the area with a focus on rural teacher education.
The white sawmill owner was P.G. Grambling, and the school — Grambling State University — carries his name today.
Grambling needs white, black and brown champions today like no other time. Facing the fifth of a series of significant budget cuts in the last few years, the university cannot stave off excruciating budget cuts without help from northeastern Louisiana businesses.
Helping Grambling get through this difficult period might not seem as important and as urgent as other matters unless and until the university is facing closure or merging, real options once cuts are so deep that it cannot adequately balance tuition costs with quality instruction.
Many businesses are faced with making tough decisions, but not many strong business leaders are willing to sacrifice their core business missions for the sake of a one-time cut so painful customers don’t recognize the company they have come to know.
Imagine Grambling being forced to go back to the days before P.G. Grambling when it was the Colored Industrial and Agricultural School offering certificates, not degrees. Imagine Grambling being nothing more than the North Louisiana Agricultural and Industrial School or the Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute, a junior college offering two-year certificates and diplomas.
Imagine Booker T. Washington, founder of Tuskegee Institute and the man who sent Charles P. Adams to help organize what became Grambling being disappointed that all that became Grambling being dismantled.