By MOHAMED HAMALUDIN
Superstar basketball player LeBron James will finance a public school in his native Akron, Ohio, that will be ready in fall 2018.
The I Promise School will help students who are facing academic problems. According to an April 12 story in Huffington Post.
The school is a project of the LeBron James Family Foundation and James said the motivation came from the mentorship he received from his mother and close friends:
“They would not let me get off course. A lot of the kids I see today in the community and all over the world are not lucky enough to have the same mentors and the same people around that can help their dreams become reality.”
The same story recalled that, in 2015, James made available 1,100 full-time scholarships for teens who completed a program whose goals include attendance and good grades. James has been trying to make other differences in the lives of people and communities. But he is only one of many athletes doing so, many of them, like him, donating through charitable foundations.
A few of them recruited from overseas are even donating millions of dollars to help their home countries, including former basketball player Dikembo Mutombo, who sent $15 million to his native Congo.
Other athletes whose names have popped up in recent years as notable donors or for their charitable works include other basketball players Carmello Anthony, Tim Duncan and David Robinson; football players Larry Fitzgerald, Ndamukong Suh, Madieu Williams and Russell Wilson; tennis player Serena Williams; and golfer Tiger Woods.
Football player Michael Bennett announced in March that he will donate 50 percent of proceeds from sales of his jersey to boost healthy living initiatives. He said he was inspired by a $1 million donation announced by Chance the Rapper to the Chicago school district.
But these initiatives, though worth probably tens of millions of dollars and having an impact on the lives of those who benefit from them, represent just a small part of the financial resources at the disposal of star athletes. It is time for them to consider going further. The athletes’ incomes are invested somewhere and some of that money can be leveraged to help Black America.
One area which immediately comes to mind is newspapers. The Black Press was the champion of African Americans for probably a century, especially during the segregation era, when they were the only ones to tell the black story.
For several decades now, black publishers have been caught in a losing struggle to remain in business. Even though there is considerably more coverage of black issues and people, there are still many areas where it takes the Black Press to provide context.
An infusion of capital will help them stay afloat and even expand.
Another area worth considering is the banking and financial sector, where investments can be made to open community banks that can lend to small borrowers and small businesses that cannot obtain muchneeded loans.
Black dollars can also be pumped into the housing market to help avoid some of the horror stories recently in the news of elderly black women being evicted from homes where they have lived for many decades.
Health care is another obvious field and here money can be provided for the training of doctors and opening of health centers and clinic, for instance, in the “Black Belt,” especially in places such as Marion, Ala. According to a report by Dr. Helen Ouyang in the current issue of Harper’s Magazine, Marion is perhaps the poorest part of the United States and shortage of health care is directly linked to extreme poverty. Even if there is no profit in such investment, an infusion of money into health care will make a big difference in people’s lives.
And then there is trade and industry, including import and export, linking all parts of Black America to themselves and to the vast African diaspora through the sort of commerce and investments that have enriched white folks down the centuries. This is an area that is only gradually being explored but with little black input.
Suggestions such as these can be brought to fruition through setting up one or more corporations bankrolled by black professional athletes to oversee the investments. Life will become even more difficult because of the assaults on the hard-won gains by African Americans and those with the resources have a duty to step forward to help the needy.