Photo Credit: Michael Buckner/Variety

During the 2022 BET Awards, the HBCU Buzz founder and entrepreneur was honored with the “Shine A Light Award,” which was presented by Walmart. The coveted award was established by BET in 2001 to celebrate Black and minority trailblazers in entertainment, sports, culture and more. He has since opened up about receiving the honor.

“Everyday I’m living proof of our ancestors wildest dreams,” said Lawal Jr. on LinkedIn. “1% of it was my plan and 99% was grace. Who knew; #GodDid. Thank you BET for a dream come true and awarding me the 2022 Shine A Light award.”

As a graduate of Bowie State University, Luke Lawal Jr. has made it his life’s mission to advocate for HBCUs and their communities. It was a rewarding, full-circle moment to have entertainer Terrence J. introduce Lawal on the BET Awards stage. As a graduate of renowned HBCU North Carolina A&T State University, Terrence J. has worked with HBCU Buzz on several projects. Most recently, he served as a moderator in a conversation about COVID-19 vaccinations featuring Kelly Rowland and multiple HBCU leaders. Racking up over 3 million views, the unscripted conversation became the most-viewed video on the HBCU Buzz Youtube page. 

“Give it up for him,” Terrence J. told the clapping crowd at the awards show. “Luke is a passionate entrepreneur specifically amongst young professionals, and founded HBCU Buzz while he was still an undergrad!”

Lawal first recognized the need for a company like HBCU Buzz while sitting in his college dorm room. Each HBCU can feel like a world within its own, and he wanted to change that. Through the creation of HBCU Buzz, Lawal has worked tirelessly to keep members of the HBCU community connected to opportunities, current events, and each other. Among other things, HBCU Buzz helps students and alumni to stay updated on what’s happening with other campuses. They have also been able to unite and make their own connections. For example, HBCU Buzz will often have roundtable discussions with a special guest and hand-selected HBCU students of similar majors. Previous roundtables have featured notable talent like  Jamie Foxx, Michael B. Jordan, Keke Palmer, Black Panther and Coming II America costume designer Ruth E. Carter, and more. 

Lawal has also made efforts to uplift HBCU leaders. For one, he created an annual list called the HBCU Buzz Top 30 Under 30 to highlight HBCU game changers. Featuring a mix of both familiar and unfamiliar faces, the honorees span industries like entertainment, education, medicine, sports, and more. He also created a unique series where he interviews HBCU presidents to share their one-of-a-kind experiences and insights. Through the “President’s Corner,” he has interviewed HBCU presidents such as Florida A&M University president Dr. Larry Robinson,  and even the president of his alma mater, Bowie State University’s Dr. Aminta Breaux. 

Lawal perhaps would have never been as successful as he is today without his decision to attend a Historically Black College or University (HBCU). As the child of two HBCU graduates, he grew up with a fascination for the institutions that were such important parts of his parents’ identities. Growing up in Washington, D.C., his mother attended Howard University and graduated Summa Cum Laude, while his father attended Bowie State University. Lawal has often shared that choosing to attend his father’s alma mater changed his life. Like his father, he became a proud member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. as well.  “Luke we’re so proud of you, plus he’s the Bruhz so throw the hooks up,” said Terrence J. as his frat brother proudly held his award. 

As a man who is never where you left him last, Luke continues to find new ways to advocate for HBCUs. Most recently, Lawal decided to take a leap into the metaverse. “He is also the creator of a new cryptocurrency that services HBCUs called HBCU Coin,” shared Terrence J. “The primary focus [of the coin] is to allow students to gain knowledge about the crypto industry, and have the opportunity to create relationships with stakeholders beyond graduation. Thank you for using your knowledge, influence, and your skills to teach us about the future of financial literacy, said the actor. “We at BET and Walmart will continue to sign a light on you for doing big things.”