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Obama Says Civil Rights Movement Opened Door for his Election

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By George E. Curry
NNPA Editor-in-Chief

AUSTIN, Texas (NNPA) –With civil rights legends Andrew Young, John Lewis and Julian Bond and Jesse Jackson looking on, President Barack Obama on Thursday credited the Civil Rights Movement and landmark legislation signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1960s for paving the way for his becoming the nation’s first Black president.

Keynoting the three-day celebration at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library in observance of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Obama said: “Today, as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, we honor the men and women who made it possible. Some of them are here today. We celebrate giants like John Lewis and Andrew Young and Julian Bond. We recall the countless unheralded Americans, Black and White, students and scholars, preachers and housekeepers – whose names are etched not on monuments, but in the hearts of their loved ones, and in the fabric of the country they helped to change.”

There is no better evidence of that change than his election, the president said.

“Because of the Civil Rights Movement, because of the laws President Johnson signed, new doors of opportunity and education swung open for everybody – not all at once, but they swung open. Not just for Blacks and Whites, but also women and Latinos; and Asians and Native Americans; and gay Americans and Americans with a disability. They swung open for you, and they swung open for me. And that’s why I’m standing here today – because of those efforts, because of that legacy,” he said to loud applause.

“And that means we’ve – got a debt to pay. That means we can’t afford to be cynical. Half a century later, the laws LBJ passed are now as fundamental to our conception of ourselves and our democracy as the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. They are foundational; an essential piece of the American character.”

In addition to Obama, three former presidents – Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush – addressed the summit. Also participating were U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), former chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC); Former NAACP Board Chairman Julian Bond, who served as SNCC’s communications director under Lewis, and Andrew Young, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under Jimmy Carter and executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) under Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Lewis, Bond and Young were present at least two of the three days of the summit. Another civil rights activist of that time, Jesse L. Jackson, who headed SCLC’s Operation Breadbasket in Chicago, arrived on the last day of the conference and had no formal role in the celebration.

It was not clear if President Obama knew Jackson was in the audience or that it would have mattered if he had known. Relations between the two Chicago-based leaders have been icy since July 2008 when Jackson was overheard saying in an off-camera TV interview, “See, Barack’s been talking down to Black people…I want to cut his nuts off.”

Obama made no mention of Jackson in his speech. And Jackson was not included in the meetings the president has held at the White House with civil rights leaders, including Al Sharpton, a former Jackson protégée; National Urban League President Marc H. Morial and former NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous.

In his 30-minute address, Obama talked about how President Johnson, who grew up in segregation in rural Texas, overcame his upbringing to nudge the Democratic Party to embrace civil rights, knowing that it would ultimately be politically costly.

“He wanted to call on senators and representatives to pass a civil rights bill – the most sweeping since Reconstruction. And most of his staff counseled him against it,” Obama recounted. “They said it was hopeless; that it would anger powerful Southern Democrats and committee chairmen; that it risked derailing the rest of his domestic agenda. And one particularly bold aide said he did not believe a president should spend his time and power on lost causes, however worthy they might be. To which, it is said, President Johnson replied, ‘Well, what the hell’s the presidency for?’”

Johnson, who was noted for his salty language, was not always for civil rights.

“During his first 20 years in Congress, he opposed every civil rights bill that came up for a vote, once calling the push for federal legislation ‘a farce and a sham,’” Obama said. “He was chosen as a vice presidential nominee in part because of his affinity with, and ability to deliver, that Southern White vote. And at the beginning of the Kennedy administration, he shared with President Kennedy a caution towards racial controversy.”

Ironically, President Obama has also been accused of being too cautious on racial issues, especially during his first term.

But Johnson, like former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, who had once been a member of the Ku Klux Klan before turning into one of the most liberal members of the Supreme Court (1937-1971), showed an astounding ability to change.

He lobbied for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, legislation that changed the face of the South, which practiced its own form of apartheid. The law banned discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Watching John Lewis and others being brutally beaten in 1965 as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the Selma-to-Montgomery March made a lasting impression on Johnson.

“What happened in Selma is part of a larger movement which reached into every section and state of America,” Johnson said at the time. “It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life. Their cause must be our cause, too. Because it is not just Negroes, but really, it’s all of us who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice.” Borrowing the theme song of the Civil Rights Movement, Johnson said. “And we shall overcome.”

Three years after passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Johnson signed into law the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Though the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibited discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion or national origin, it did not included any federal enforcement provisions. The housing law fixed that defect in the sale, rental or financing of housing.

In addition to his triumvirate of laws – the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the 1968 Fair Housing Act – President Johnson launched a War on Poverty to help poor people and signed other bills to help create what he called a Great Society. His efforts led to the creation of Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start, the Jobs Corps, food stamps, and passage of the Older Americans Act, the Manpower Act, the Public Works and Redevelopment Act, the Higher Education Act, the Child Protection Act, the National School Lunch Act and the Child Nutrition Act.

Obama used Johnson’s words to summarize the Texan’s goals. “’We want to open the gates to opportunity,’ President Johnson said. ‘But we are also going to give all our people, Black and White, the help they need to walk through those gates.’”

“Now, if some of this sounds familiar, it’s because today we remain locked in this same great debate about equality and opportunity, and the role of government in ensuring each,” he said. “As was true 50 years ago, there are those who dismiss the Great Society as a failed experiment and an encroachment on liberty; who argue that government has become the true source of all that ails us, and that poverty is due to the moral failings of those who suffer from it. There are also those who argue, John, that nothing has changed; that racism is so embedded in our DNA that there is no use trying politics – the game is rigged.”

But Obama is not among those who subscribe to that argument.

“But such theories ignore history,” the president stated. “Yes, it’s true that, despite laws like the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act and Medicare, our society is still racked with division and poverty. Yes, race still colors our political debates, and there have been government programs that have fallen short. In a time when cynicism is too often passed off as wisdom, it’s perhaps easy to conclude that there are limits to change; that we are trapped by our own history; and politics is a fool’s errand, and we’d be better off if we roll back big chunks of LBJ’s legacy, or at least if we don’t put too much of our hope, invest too much of our hope in our government.”

President Obama explained, “I reject such thinking. Not just because Medicare and Medicaid have lifted millions from suffering; not just because the poverty rate in this nation would be far worse without food stamps and Head Start and all the Great Society programs that survive to this day. I reject such cynicism because I have lived out the promise of LBJ’s efforts. Because Michelle has lived out the legacy of those efforts. Because my daughters have lived out the legacy of those efforts. Because I and millions of my generation were in a position to take the baton that he handed to us.”

Bill Clinton says Voter ID Laws Undermine Civil Rights Progress

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By George E. Curry
NNPA Editor-in-Chief

AUSTIN, TEXAS (NNPA) – Former President Bill Clinton praised President Lyndon B. Johnson for signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act into law, but said the progress that stemmed from those landmark measures are being undermined by Republican-led efforts to suppress the vote.

“We’re here because the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act made it possible for Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama to be president of the United States,” Clinton said to loud applause during a speech Wednesday that was part of a 3-day celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Clinton said 10 states require some form of state-issued ID before allowing voters to cast a ballot. Last year, the U.S. Justice Department sued Texas and North Carolina over their voter ID laws, charging that undercut voter participation by Blacks and Latinos.

Other states, practically all led by GOP governors or Republican-controlled state legislatures, have erected barriers, including reducing the hours polls are open and cutting back on early voting.

Supporters of the ID laws say they are needed to curb voter fraud. But the Justice Department and civil rights groups said voter fraud is minimal.

President Obama and former presidents Carter and Clinton traveling to Texas to honor Johnson sends a strong measure from a Democratic Party that has been at times conflicted about his legacy. The architect of the Great Society programs that expanded opportunity for oppressed groups and the poor lost his re-election largely over the popularity of the Viet Nam War, which Johnson continued to defend.

In his speech, Clinton praised the legends of activists, including Dr. Martin Luther King, former Mississippi State NAACP President Medgar Evers and others who lost their lives while fighting to hold America true to its founding principles.

Texas-born Johnson was vice president at the time John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. He defeated arch-conservative Barry Goldwater in 1964 but after getting bogged down in the divisive Vietnam War, decided not to seek re-election in 1968.

Vietnam notwithstanding, Johnson was widely viewed as a master politician, even publicly stating that signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act would send White voters in the South into the arms of the Republican Party, which was virtually non-existent at the time in the states that formed the old Confederacy. History proved him correct. But history also showed that he lobbied for and signed into law three of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation in the last 50 years – the 1964 Civil Rights Act that outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion or gender; the Voting Rights Act of 1965, legislation passed after the Selma-to-Montgomery, Ala. March that finally allowed Blacks to vote freely in the Deep South and the 1968 Fair Housing Act, designed to remove discrimination in housing.

Calling Johnson a “son of the South,” Clinton described him as “a Texan bred with the state’s outsized ambitions (who) saw limitless possibilities in the lives of other people like him, who just happened to have a different color skin.”

He said, “Just as Abraham Lincoln stewarded the 13th Amendment through Congress, Johnson’s leadership embodies the power of the presidency to redeem the promise of America,” Clinton said in his speech here.

But that promise took a beating last year when the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the provision that requires states with a history of discrimination to pre-clear any voting-related changes with the Justice Department or a federal court in Washington, D.C. before implementing them.

Clinton criticized the ruling that was decided by the court’s conservative majority.

“Any time you erect a barrier to political participation [by people] … based on their race or their physical capacity or their income … it undermines the spirit of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act,” he said.

Clinton explained, “It sent a signal throughout the country. We all know what this is about. This is a way of restricting a franchise after 50 years of expanding it … Is this was Martin Luther King gave his life for? These divisions and the lack of a spirit of coming together put us back in the dustbin of old history,” he said. “We have too many current challenges to waste a day trying to recreate a yesterday that we’re better off done with.”

Jimmy Carter says his Life Shaped by 'Black Culture'

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By George E. Curry
NNPA Editor-in-Chief

AUSTIN, Texas (NNPA) – Although he grew up in a rural farming community in Georgia during an era of rigid racial segregation in the 1920s and 1930s, former President Jimmy Carter said his life was shaped at an early age by “Black culture.”

The nation’s 39th president made his comments Tuesday night during a conversation at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, landmark legislation signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson that outlawed discrimination against racial and ethnic minorities as well as women.

Former presidents Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush along with President Barack Obama made individual presentations over a 3-day period at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library here on the campus of the University of Texas.

Instead of a formal speech, Carter was seated on stage with Mark K. Updegrove, director of the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, for an hour-long a discussion on Carter’s early life and his presidency.

“I grew up in a little village, unincorporated named Archery, Ga., just a few miles west of Plains,” Carter recounted. “…We were surrounded by 55 other families who were African American. All of my playmates, all of my companions in the field – the ones I hunted with, fished with, wrestled with, fought with – were Black people.”

With no hint or braggadocio or regret, Carter stated mater-of-factly, “My life was really shaped – perhaps as much as any other White American who ever lived – by a Black culture. My daddy was a full-time worker away from home, my mother was a registered nurse and she was on duty 20 hours a day. She got off at night at 10 o’clock and she came home and washed her uniform took a shower and left me and my two sisters instructions for the next day, then she went back on duty at 2 o’clock in the morning. She spent 20 hours [working].”

Carter said he and his two sisters weren’t abandoned by their parents.

“So, I was left home a lot with African American women who my father had hired to take care of us children,” he recalled. “So I learned to appreciate, you might say, Black culture. When I wrote a book called Hours Before Daylight, at the end of the book, I tried to think of five people other than my parents who had shaped my life and only two of those five [a teacher and his grandmother on his father’s side] were White.”

Carter graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1946 and went on active duty, serving mostly on submarines. When he joined the Navy, it was segregated but that changed within two years.

“It was during the time I was in the Navy that Harry Truman ordained in 1948 that all the military forces would be free of racial segregation and this was one of the most courageous political acts that I knew about at the time because it was a very unpopular thing for him to do. But I saw first-hand how Blacks and Whites should live and it was better for both of us to live as equals.”

Upon his discharge in 1953, Lt. Jimmy Carter returned to Plains, Ga. and in many ways, it remained frozen in time. He and his wife of seven years, Rosalynn, operated Carter’s Warehouse, a seed and farm supply company.

“I was then emerged in a segregated society more moderate or liberal than my neighbors were,” he stated. “We had a boycott against my business. I remember one time I drove up in front of the only service station in Plains and they refused to put gasoline in my car because they considered us to be – I won’t use the word – lovers of Black people.”

That reputation would follow him when he was elected governor of Georgia. Carter was sworn in on Jan. 12, 1971. In an 8-minute speech, he immediately signaled a new era of race relations in Georgia.

“I’ve traveled the state more than any other person in history and I say to you quite frankly that the time for racial discrimination is over,” he said at his inaugural address. “Never again should a Black child be deprived of an equal right to health care, education, or the other privileges of society.”

While in the governor’s mansion, Carter saw Lyndon B. Johnson as another profile in courage. He was impressed that Johnson, a fellow Southerner, pushed for and signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, knowing it could hurt him politically.

“Lyndon Johnson came along with his great insight and political courage and wisdom and tenacity and literally changed my personal life and lives of everyone in America,” the former president said.

To get elected, Carter visited every area of the state. It was that same dogged tenacity that paved the way for him to become elected president of the United States in 1976, defeating incumbent Gerald Ford, who had been elevated from vice president to replace Richard M. Nixon follow the Watergate scandal.

Carter is the only U.S president who has lived in public housing. He created the Department of Education and the Department of Energy. Unpopular after one term, Carter lost to Ronald Reagan in 1980.

When asked has much changed in civil rights in recent decades, Carter responded with a resounding “no,” perhaps his quickest reply to a question all evening.

“We kind of accept self-congratulations about the wonderful 50th anniversary. Which is wonderful but we feel like, you know, Lyndon Johnson did it. We don’t have to do anything anymore. I think too many people are at ease with the still existing disparity.”

Black Children Rank Last on Milestone Index

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By Freddie Allen
NNPA Washington Correspondent

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Despite great progress that grew out of the Civil Rights Movement, “a web of stubborn obstacles remains” that prevents children of color, especially Black children, from reaching their full potential, according to a recent report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

“Differences in opportunity are evident from the earliest years of a child’s life. Too often, children of color grow up in environments where they experience high levels of poverty and violence,” the report stated. “Such circumstances derail healthy development and lead to significant psychological and physiological trauma.”

The report titled, “Race for Results: Building a Path to Opportunity for All Children,” featured the foundation’s new “National Race for Results Index” that tracked 12 key milestones, including fourth grade reading proficiency, birth weight, the share of children who live in two-parent families and the proportion of children living in poverty.

Black children scored a 345 on the new index, the lowest among all children and 359 points lower than their White peers. Asian and Pacific Islander children scored the highest on the index with 776.

Blacks scored below the national average on every Race for Results Index Indicator accept for “children ages 3 to 5 enrolled in nursery school, preschool or kindergarten” and “children who live with a householder who has at least a high school diploma.” Black children scored 63 percent on the preschool/kindergarten measure compared to the national average of 60 percent and tied the national average for children living with a high school graduate at 85 percent.

“For African American children the gap between where they are and where they should be continues to reflect a level of structural inequality that is difficult to eradicate,” said Wade Henderson, the president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Without a focused effort generated both by the private sector and the government we won’t really have a meaningful response to the problems.”

Those problems, some decades old, were often perpetuated and institutionalized by the federal government and deeply rooted in American society.

Following the Great Depression, as the Federal Housing Administration acted to lift White families out of poverty by encouraging home ownership and providing FHA-backed loans, the agency blocked Black families from those same opportunities through a process known as “redlining.”

When Black veterans returned home from World War II, they continued to face discrimination from the federal government that would have lasting negative impacts on homeownership and wealth in the Black community.

“While White veterans used the G.I. Bill to great advantage, discriminatory practices systematized through government structures often prevented non-Whites from accessing G.I. Bill benefits, either for college or to obtain mortgages,” stated the report.

The report explained: “People of color whose valor helped defeat fascism abroad were being denied pillars of the American Dream by racist processes and practices at home.”

The vestiges of structural racism that deprived Black families of the American Dream, continues to plague the Black community today.

Black children scored below their White counterparts in every measure related to family resources and below the national average on three out of four measures related to family resources. Those measures included: delaying childbearing until adulthood, living in a household with a person who has at least a high school diploma, living in a two-parent family and living in a family with income at or above 200 percent of the poverty line.

The report noted that institutional discrimination continues to plague the South, where most Blacks still live. Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, South Carolina earned the lowest marks for Blacks on the index.

“Obviously demographics are not destiny,” said Henderson. “On the other hand, the demographic trends pointed out in this report are likely to create a reality for the American economy, that without the interventions that we’ve talked, about will reduce us all to something less than what we want as a nation and that’s the motivation I hope will encourage the investments that we need.”

And those investments will become even more important as the labor force becomes more diverse and the nation’s economy becomes more dependent on the contributions of people of color.

According to the Race for Results report, “If the United States had closed the racial achievement gap and African-American and Latino student performance had caught up with white students by 1998, the gross domestic product in 2008 would have been up to $525 billion higher.”

The Annie E. Casey Foundation report made a number of recommendations, including collecting more data and using it to develop targeted programs and investments for the children with the most need and expanding programs that have proven track records. The report also recommended connecting communities of color to new jobs and opportunities.

During the panel discussion on the report, Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and CEO of Policy Link, said that she hopes the report will get the nation’s attention.

“We know what works,” said Blackwell, “We know how to make [early childhood education] available to all children. What we lack is the political and public will to demand it and to make it so.”

Black Students Receive $25,000 a year Buick Scholarships

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By Freddie Allen
NNPA Washington Correspondent

ATLANTA (NNPA) – After attending a prestigious, predominately White private school, Ty’Quish Keyes yearned for a new cultural and educational experience. Keyes mother pushed him to excel in school and his community because she knew that college was the best way out of their crime-ridden North Philadelphia neighborhood, that held few opportunities for young, Black men.

In 2011, Keyes visited Morehouse College and found students and faculty that supported Black excellence and self-motivated, young Black men. It was a perfect fit for Keyes.

“I was visiting a whole bunch of schools and when I came to Morehouse, I realized that there was a lot I of things I didn’t know about African Americans, my culture and my history,” said Philadelphia teen. Keyes saw Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Chapel for the first time, learned about Malcolm X and about the sacrifices and the perseverance of the Freedom Riders; the richness and success of Blacks in American history, had been largely invisible in the curriculum at his high school. He was one of just a handful of Black students in his graduating class. “When I came to [Atlanta] it was shocking.”

Keyes earned enough scholarships to pay for his first fall semester at Morehouse College, but when his mother applied for a loan to help cover tuition and expenses for the spring semester of his freshmen year, she was denied. During the first weeks of the spring 2012 semester, Keyes scrambled to find scholarships and raise enough money to continue at Morehouse. He watched as some of his classmates in similar financial straits were forced to abandon their college dreams, and the North Philadelphia native wondered if he would be next.

“I was freaking out,” said Keyes, recalling those nerve-racking hours, weighing whether to study for tests or complete assignments for classes, unsure if he would make it to the next week.

Keyes learned about the Buick Achievers Scholarship Program through connections at Morehouse College and applied, thinking that he had nothing lose.

It was a decision that saved his Morehouse College dream and quite possibly his professional career. Keyes, now a junior with a dual major in applied physics and mechanical engineering and a minor in mathematics, won the scholarship and it helped to cover the cost for his sophomore and junior years at Morehouse.

Under the program, students are eligible to receive up to $25,000 per year to attend a four-year college. Every year the scholarships are awarded to100 first-time freshman or existing college students and is renewable up to four years and one additional year for those entering a qualified five-year engineering program, according to program’s website, BuickAchievers.com.

To qualify, applicants must also plan to pursue STEM-related (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programs or a select number of design or business-related courses of study.

College majors available for the Buick Achievers scholarship include: automotive technology, chemical engineering, computer engineering, computer information systems, mechanical engineering, automotive design, accounting economics, international business and business administration. The full list of eligible majors can be found at www.BuickAchievers.com.

The scholarship award process also gives special consideration to applicants who are the first in their family to attend college, minorities and veterans.

“One of the unique things that we have done with the Buick Achievers scholarship program is that we have a component built in where we give extra points to individuals who are the first in their families to attend college,” said Vivian Rogers Pickard, president of the General Motors Foundation and director of Corporate Relations at GM. “We know that it impacts the African American and Hispanic communities. So we know that we are making a difference in the lives of families in those communities and really in our country.”

The funds for the scholarship come from the GM Foundation, not the General Motors Company, according to the scholarship’s website.

Karen Nicklin, the manager of educational initiatives for the GM Foundation and Corporate Relations, said 3,300 students have received $16.5 million to make their educational dreams come true. The Buick Achievers Scholarship Program has awarded $4.7 million to nearly 450 Black students, nearly half of them the first in their family to go to college.

Black students account for 20 percent of the scholarship applicants and 14 percent of the students who receive scholarships through the program, meaning that 70 percent of Black students that apply are accepted. Nicklin said that the scholarship program would be even more successful if more Black students were aware it existed.

“Some of these kids couldn’t even have afforded to go to college, now they are at a Morehouse or a Spelman or a Tuskegee. That’s life changing,” said Nicklin. “Hopefully that exposure changes the beliefs of their families and other members of their communities so that they also believe that they can do it.”

Nicklin said that ensuring a sustainable STEM pipeline for future workers is critical for companies like General Motors.

As the nation’s workforce grows more diverse, investments in education and job development in the Black and Hispanic communities will become even more essential.

According to a 2013 report on the disparities in STEM employment by the United States Census Bureau, Blacks and Hispanics continue to lag behind their White counterparts in those fields.

The report found that in 2011, Blacks accounted for 11 percent of the labor force, but only six percent of STEM workers. Whites represented 67 percent of the labor force and 71 percent of the STEM workers.

“We want to help create that next generation of innovators and leaders,” said Nicklin. “We have to cultivate and inspire them to reach out for that education.”

According to a 2013 report by the National Center for Education Statistics a federal agency that collects, organizes and reports data related to education, the nearly 30 percent of Blacks who started a bachelor’s program in a STEM field left school without earning a degree and “36 percent switched their major to a non-STEM field.” In comparison, roughly 20 percent of Whites who began a bachelors program in a STEM field left without obtaining a degree and about 28 percent switched to a non-STEM major.

Students, who are often underrepresented in STEM fields leave for myriad reasons.

“Such factors include inadequate academic advising, career counseling, and institution support; feelings of isolation in STEM fields because too few peers pursue STEM degrees and too few role models and mentors are available (mainly pertinent to females and underrepresented minorities); distaste for the competitive climate in STEM departments (women especially); and perceived discrimination on the basis of sex and/or race/ethnicity in the STEM workforce,” stated the report.

STEM careers are some of the highest paid jobs in country for people with only a bachelor’s degree. According to PayScale.com, the online salary profile database starting salaries can range from $103,000 for a petroleum engineer to $54,000 for a civil engineer.

Keyes said that highlighting Black students who are Buick Achievers who also attend HBCUs (historically Black colleges and universities) can help raise the profile of the scholarship program.

Michael L. Lomax, the president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund, the nation’s largest provider of scholarships and other educational support to African American students enrolled in private, Black HBCUs, said that General Motors has been supporting UNCF for 70 years.

Lomax continued: “It’s really important that what we’re doing now is helping African American talent understand where the big opportunities and big challenges are,” said Lomax. “We want to see more of our graduates designing the automobiles, and the systems that drive the automobiles and the only way that is going to happen is if they are pursuing STEM degrees.”

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