“I been on the move

I been on the grind

I been winnin’ big

Puttin’ in the time” 

Jeremiah Chapman, a graduate of JCSU, originally shared this story via Post and Courier. As an artist/activist, I’m forever indebted to the confidence instilled in me by my historically black university, Johnson C. Smith University. As a first-generation college graduate, it gave me a pathway to power by educating and providing me tools to understand who I truly was, am, and would be. The economic impact of my school was apparent, literally feeding and keeping a roof over my family.

It was at JSCU that I got my start as an activist and spoken word artist. I also used the university’s facilities to host community events/initiatives. My HBCU also exposed me to the vast network of camaraderie, like my friendship with the late artist/activist Tywanza Sanders (Allen University ’14), who died in the 2015 Emanuel AME Church shooting in Charleston. His abrupt death further inspired me to take my music and activism more seriously, and take on the stage moniker Prophet X.

My story is not unique as a young black man born to a single mother. What is unique is the impact HBCUs have on others like me. These institutions turn the most oppressed into the greatest leaders this country has ever seen and create the bulk of black professionals in the workforce. Much of the magic is in the unlearning that happens at HBCUs, where black students get a clearer sense of history that doesn’t glorify their oppressors, but rather honors the contributions of their ancestors.

As Tom Steyer’s social impact director, I look back to my roots and dream of a better future for all of us.

I worked with senior policy adviser Arnie Sowell to develop a policy that would allow HBCUs to have autonomy over their fate, increase funding to drive down tuition costs, support racial justice, and be centers where future leaders could be cultivated.

Steyer’s planned $125 billion investment would be a game changer for HBCUs and the communities they serve. Read the full story via Post and Courier.