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2 mins read

Howard University Revokes Sean Combs’ Honorary Degree and Terminates Agreements

In a strong statement released today, Howard University announced the Board of Trustees’ unanimous decision to accept Sean Combs’ return of the honorary degree awarded in 2014.

“The Howard University Board of Trustees voted unanimously today to accept the return by Mr. Sean Combs of the honorary degree conferred upon him in 2014,” the statement reads. “This acceptance revokes all honors and privileges associated with the degree. Accordingly, the Board has directed that his name be removed from all documents listing honorary degree recipients of Howard University.”

The university cited a recently released video depicting behavior incompatible with their core values as the reason behind the decision.

“Mr. Combs’ behavior as captured in the recently released video is so fundamentally incompatible with Howard University’s core values and beliefs that he is deemed no longer worthy to hold the institution’s highest honor,” the statement continues. “The University is unwavering in its opposition to all acts of interpersonal violence.”

The Board’s actions extend beyond revoking the degree. The university will also:

  • Return Combs’ $1 million contribution
  • Terminate a 2016 gift agreement with Combs
  • Disband the scholarship program established in his name
  • Terminate a 2023 pledge agreement with the Sean Combs Foundation (no funds were received under this agreement)

This decisive move by Howard University reflects their commitment to upholding their values and fostering a safe and inclusive environment for their students.

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3 mins read

Uncle Nearest Launches Second Annual HBCU Old Fashioned Challenge

Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, the world’s leading Black-owned spirits brand, is proud to launch its second annual HBCU Old Fashioned Challenge, a nationwide initiative dedicated to supporting HBCUs.

Intending to raise $1.4 million, this inspiring initiative aims to provide one full tuition scholarship at each accredited HBCU nationwide.

The campaign, which commenced on January 15, 2024 (in honor of MLK Jr. Day) and will culminate on June 19, 2024 (in honor of Juneteenth), two pivotal dates in Black American history, invites individuals nationwide to participate in the fundraising effort.

Highlighting the vital role of HBCUs in fostering academic excellence and driving equity, the initiative underscores the need to address historical underfunding. Despite constituting less than 3% of the nation’s colleges, HBCUs have consistently produced a significant percentage of Black professionals, including doctors, attorneys, and judges.

Fawn Weaver, CEO and founder of Uncle Nearest emphasizes the brand’s commitment to ensuring financial barriers do not hinder talented students from receiving the education they deserve. Weaver shares, “Before we sold our first bottle of Uncle Nearest, we were already funding the college education of Nearest Green’s descendants. Every semester, writing those checks brought me immense joy, knowing the significant impact they would have on each student’s life. This same feeling resurfaced when I began writing tuition checks to HBCUs for our Old Fashioned Challenge. It’s an honor, and my hope is that we can continue this tradition annually with the checks growing larger as the Uncle Nearest whiskey family expands.”

“Uncle Nearest gives a lot, with ‘pulling as we climb’ being part of our DNA right from the start,” said Victoria Eady Butler, great-great-granddaughter of Nearest Green and four-time Master Blender of the Year. “But this challenge is something special, ’cause we’re inviting our whiskey family to join us in giving back. Seeing the excitement from them, and our thousands of retail, restaurant, bar, hotel, and airline partners across the country even before this year’s challenge kicked off, well, that lets me know we’ve started something extraordinary. To our whiskey family and partners everywhere, thank y’all!”

For more information on the HBCU Old Fashioned Challenge, including a list of participating bars, restaurants, and retailers, and to follow along on the road to $1.4 million raised, visit

2 mins read

Spelman College Receives $100 Million Donation, Largest-Ever Single Gift to an HBCU

Spelman College, renowned for its historic role in educating and empowering Black women, erupted in jubilation today as it announced a monumental $100 million donation – the largest single gift ever received by a Historically Black College or University (HBCU). This transformational gesture comes at a particularly poignant moment, coinciding with the centennial anniversary of the college’s official naming in 1924.

The gift originates from businesswoman and philanthropist Ronda Stryker, a Spelman College Trustee since 1997, and her husband, William Johnston, Chairman of Greenleaf Trust.

“We are invigorated and inspired by this incredible act of generosity,” declared Dr. Helene Gayle, president of Spelman College. “This gift is a critical step in our school’s mission to eliminate financial barriers to starting and finishing a Spelman education. We can’t thank Ronda Stryker enough for her selflessness and support as both a trustee and friend. There’s no doubt that Spelman College is better because of her.”

A cornerstone of the initiative is a $75 million commitment to endowed scholarships, ensuring that brilliant young minds can pursue their academic dreams at Spelman regardless of financial constraints. This investment in talented young Black women promises to enrich the college’s vibrant community and contribute to a more diverse and equitable future.

Not only will financial accessibility be enhanced, but the remaining $25 million will be used to cultivate new avenues for intellectual exploration and growth. A dedicated focus on public policy and democracy will empower Spelman students to become influential agents of change in their communities and beyond. Additionally, improvements to student housing and the allocation of flexible funding for strategic needs will further create a nurturing and well-equipped environment for academic excellence.

This landmark donation transcends its financial magnitude. It serves as a powerful testament to the enduring legacy of Spelman College and its unwavering commitment to nurturing the intellectual and societal leadership of Black women. As the college embarks on its next century, Stryker and Johnston’s transformative gift provides a vital springboard for Spelman to continue shaping the future, one extraordinary woman at a time.

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2 mins read

Lincoln University Reels in Wake of Beloved VP’s Tragic Death and Allegations of Mistreatment

The Lincoln University community is mourning the unexpected death of Dr. Antoinette “Bonnie” Candia-Bailey, Vice President for Student Affairs, while grappling with unsettling allegations of workplace bullying and a toxic environment that surrounded her final days.

Dr. Candia-Bailey, an alumna of Lincoln University and a revered figure in the community, passed away on January 8th, 2024. Her death sent shockwaves through the campus, with students, faculty, and alumni expressing deep sorrow and sharing heartfelt tributes. However, the grief has been accompanied by a growing wave of anger and concern fueled by unconfirmed reports of Dr. Candia-Bailey’s struggles within the university administration.

Lincoln University
Dr. Antoinette “Bonnie” Candia-Bailey

These reports, supported by an email allegedly sent by Dr. Candia-Bailey before her death, paint a disturbing picture of alleged bullying and severe mistreatment at the hands of President John Moseley. This has sparked outrage and protests demanding President Moseley’s resignation, with the hashtag #FireMoseley gaining traction online and resonating within the community.

Adding to the turmoil is the news of an investigation launched by the Board of Curators into the university’s handling of Dr. Candia-Bailey’s situation. This investigation aims to determine whether proper support was provided and whether university policies were followed in addressing her concerns. The results of this investigation are highly anticipated, as they are expected to shed light on the circumstances surrounding Dr. Candia-Bailey’s death and potentially hold those responsible accountable.

Amidst the swirling emotions and unfolding developments, one thing remains clear: the Lincoln University community is hurting. Their beloved leader, a champion for social justice and student well-being, is gone, leaving a void that is difficult to fill.

This story continues to evolve, and the coming days and weeks are likely to bring further revelations and potential consequences. With eyes fixed on the investigation and demands for accountability, the Lincoln University community navigates a period of grief, confusion, and growing discontent, hoping to find answers and a path forward while honoring the memory of Dr. Antoinette “Bonnie” Candia-Bailey.

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3 mins read

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Businesses You Should Know

For over a century, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, has exemplified the true essence of sisterhood by uplifting communities and empowering individuals.

As the first African American Greek-letter sorority with a rich history dating back to January 15, 1908, at Howard University in Washington, D.C., AKA has emerged as a formidable force in the world of entrepreneurship.

This article shines a spotlight on a selection of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority businesses. From fashion and beauty to food and home decor, these ventures are a testament to the dedication and talent of these visionary women who strive to leave a positive impact on the world.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Businesses

The Emerald Club

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Businesses

The Emerald Club Retreat Center in Sharpsburg, Georgia is a 10-acre property that can accommodate groups of up to 100 people.

Sydney’s Sweets

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Businesses

Sydney’s Sweets is a custom cake shop and retail bakery in Long Island, NY. They offer personalized desserts for all events and ship select treats nationwide through their online store. Owner: Sydney Perry

House of Aama

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Businesses

House of Aama, established in 2015, is a Los Angeles-based brand that creates timeless garments with nostalgic references, drawing inspiration from historical research and storytelling to explore the folkways of the Black experience.  Owner: Rebecca Henry

Reminiscent Luxe Candle Lounge

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Businesses

Reminiscent Luxe Candle Lounge is a premium candle brand that draws inspiration from the vibrant essence of 90s Hip Hop and R&B. Owner: Ashley Scales

Good Cakes and Bakes

Good Cakes and Bakes is a Detroit-based, family-owned bakery, on a mission to offer wholesome and organic baked goods while fostering a positive, creative, educational, and friendly environment for its employees and the community. Owner: April Anderson

Legacy House 614

Legacy House 614 is a unique and stylish event space in Columbus, Ohio. The house can be rented for a variety of events, including photoshoots, girl’s nights in, birthday parties, bridal showers, wine nights, community meetings, and pop-up shops. Owner: Keira Chatman

Ardor Hair Co.

Ardor Hair Co. is a hair extension company that sells 100% human hair extensions. They offer a variety of textures, including straight, wavy, and curly.  Owner: Erin Butler

of Art & Fact design studio

of Art & Fact design studio is a boutique interior design studio located in Baltimore, MD focused on mult-family, hospitality, and residential spaces. Owner: Shekesia Joyner

Main Photo Credit: @riannenelwan

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3 mins read

SpelHouse (Spelman & Morehouse) Alumni Owned Businesses (2023)

In this second installment of our series featuring businesses owned by HBCU alumni, we turn our attention to the remarkable entrepreneurs who hail from Spelman College and Morehouse College, collectively known as SpelHouse.

These institutions have long been at the forefront of empowering and cultivating brilliant minds. The SpelHouse alumni have taken their education and experiences to new heights, establishing businesses that embody their dedication to excellence, innovation, and community impact.

SpelHouse Alumni Owned Businesses

World Dry Clean Inc. is an Atlanta-based pick-up/delivery garment cleaning and specialty care shop that uses the most current eco-friendly washing machines and cleaning processes.

Owner: Vernell Kimbrough, Morehouse Class of 1983


Flora & Noor is an inclusive, halal-certified, vegan, cruelty-free, and sustainable skincare brand for those who appreciate clean skincare, those needing to treat the skin concerns of melanin-rich skin, and those with chronic skin conditions starting with eczema and hyperpigmentation.

Owner: Jordan Karin, Spelman Class of 2014


Oasis Soul Scent Co. is a candle and scented goods company dedicated to creating soothing products inspired by soulful music. Its offerings include an array of luxurious candles, body scrubs, body oils, sprays, and shower steamers, all carefully and lovingly crafted by hand using 100% natural, non-toxic, eco-friendly ingredients.

Owner: Lola Pyne, Spelman Class of 1998

Oasis Soul Scent Co.

Copper and Brass is an Afrocentric Stationery and E-Commerce Gift Boutique that showcases the Black culture with exquisite illustrations, offering premium stationery, paper goods, and gifts.

Owner: Ariel Young, Spelman Class of 2014

Copper and Brass

Base Ventures is a venture capital company that invests in seed-stage technology companies.

Co-founder, Kirby Harris, Morehouse Class of 1997

Base Ventures

HBCU Prep School is a multimedia education company that creates products for children that promote Black culture, financial literacy, and technology.

Owner: Claudia Walker, Spelman Class of 1999

Frederick Benjamin offers men’s grooming products, infused with natural oils to condition, moisturize, and style normal-to-dry scalp and hydrate and soften coarse, curly hair.

Owner: Michael James, Morehouse

by Tony O. Lawson

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4 mins read

Howard University Alumni Owned Businesses (2023)

Howard University, a historic and esteemed institution nestled in the heart of Washington, D.C., has long been a catalyst for empowering Black professionals and fostering their entrepreneurial spirit.

Over its illustrious history, the university has produced a plethora of exceptional graduates who have gone on to make significant contributions across various industries. Among these remarkable individuals are the enterprising alumni who have carved their own paths as successful business owners.

In this article, we proudly highlight the achievements of Howard University alumni who have harnessed their education, determination, and unique perspectives to establish thriving enterprises.

Howard University Alumni Owned Businesses

Plots & Pans

Plots & Plants is a gardening consultation company with locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego. Plots & Plants offers a wide range of services, from landscaping to maintenance. Owner: Dominique Charles (Class of 2006)

Samantha Rose Candle Company

The Samantha Rose Candle Company is an artisan candle company that creates all-natural soy candles and wax melts with phthalate-free premium fragrance oils. – Owner: Mackenzie Ofordire (Class of 2017)

Decor Ones LLC

Decor Ones LLC is a custom handmade decor company that specializes in rugs and wooden wall art inspired by music and Black culture. – Owner: Skylar Buchanan (Class of 2016)

Marsh + Mane

Marsh +Mane is a Philadelphia-based natural beauty supply store selling a curated selection of natural hair, skin, and beard products. – Owner: Jenea Robinson (Class of 2007)

Wellspring Manor & Spa

Wellspring Manor & Spa is a luxury bed and breakfast and spa located in Upper Marlboro, MD. The property is set on a seven-acre estate and features five suites, a spa, a fitness center, and a restaurant. – Owner: Lisa Brown-Alexander (Class of 1992)

The Capstone Crate

The Capstone Crate, a premium subscription box service, is expertly curated with posh, fun, and trending products created by Howard Alumni who own their own businesses. Each quarter you will receive a themed box of products BY HU Alumni FOR HU Alumni at your door.  – Owner: Zerlne Hughes-Spruill (Class of 2099)

Rose Trolley

Howard University Alumni Owned Businesses

Rose Trolley is a local, family-owned micro-transit startup company that provides free door-to-door, low-speed, electric vehicle transportation in Palm Beach, FL. Rose Trolley primarily serves communities that are highly populated with seniors, and the disenfranchised. – Owner: Terrence Rich (Class of 1998)

The Spice Suite

Howard University Alumni Owned Businesses

The Spice Suite is a specialty spice shop and dream incubator located in Washington, D.C. It offers a variety of services, including spice retail, workshops, and a monthly pop-up shop for Black entrepreneurs.  – Owner: Angel gregorio (Class of 2008)

The LimeLight Collection

The LimeLight Collection is a luxury line of sparkling jewel-encrusted clutch purses to accessorize and celebrate the multi-faceted woman. – Owner: Ebony Sanon (Class of 2001)


Howard University Alumni Owned Businesses

BOOMBOX is the DMV’s first and only music-driven fitness boxing studio. BOOMBOX has been discribed as a “Fitness Day Party,” where you literally punch and exercise to the beat of music. – Owner: Reggie Smith (Class of 2000)

Michael Lavelle Wines 

Howard University Alumni Owned Businesses

Michael Lavelle Wines produces bold, flavorful wines made with grapes from California and Oregon. The company’s flagship wine is the Iris Rosé, which is bright and fruity with notes of strawberry, raspberry, and peach. – Owner: Terrance Low (Class of 2012)

The CEE Suite

The Cee Suite is a NY based, M/WBE certified talent management consultancy that specializes in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). They partner with companies and nonprofits committed to building high-performing, inclusive, and equitable workplaces. – Owner: Cindy Joseph (Class of 2000)

by Tony O. Lawson

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3 mins read

Howard University Swim Team Triumphs as the Only All-Black Team in College Swimming

The Howard University Swim Team is making history as the only all-Black team in college swimming, breaking barriers and paving the way for future generations of Black swimmers.

Howard’s swim meets are now packed with students, university staff, and locals, complete with a performance by the Bisonette dance team and a lively atmosphere.

Coach Nic Askew, has been making waves in the competitive swimming world. In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, Coach Askew shared his insights on what it takes to build a successful swim team.

howard university swim team
Coach Nic Askew

He sees the unique energy at Howard’s swim meets as a testament to the program’s success. “Nobody in America can offer what we have in our pool,” he says. “Where else are you going to see this?”

As a former record-setting swimmer and all-conference tennis player at Howard, Askew brings a positive attitude to the team. He encourages his athletes to always look for the next challenge and make the most of every opportunity. Askew also has big plans for the swim program, including making Howard the touchstone for underserved communities across the country. “This is about our mission as a university and the message we want to send as an HBCU,” says Askew. “This isn’t a bunch of Black people in a pool; it’s young Black men and women succeeding in a sport that, for years, has shut them out of this experience.”

As the only remaining swim program at a historically Black college or university (HBCU), Howard is taking its responsibility seriously. Coach Askew and the staff make sure each swimmer understands the history of swimming among Black people and the school requires its undergraduate students to pass a basic swim test. Howard President Wayne A.I. Frederick explains, “It’s about going into the wider world, seeing inequities and closing them down.”

Unfortunately, the statistics are grim. USA Swimming estimates that only 1.5% of the country’s 295,078 competitive swimmers are Black, and just 2% in college. This means that every year, many college swim coaches never speak to a single Black swimmer. However, roughly one-third of America’s Black college swimmers are at Howard, making a big impact on the sport. “How many of these kids would have continued swimming in college if it weren’t for Howard?” Askew asks. “How many of them would have felt the same kind of support they have here?”

Howard’s swim program is making a difference and changing the conversation about Black people and swimming. As Miriam Lynch, a former Howard swimmer and the executive director of Diversity in Aquatics, says, “Our team is on the front line of change.”

Cover image credit: Simon Bruty/Sports Illustrated

2 mins read

$1.7 Million in Student Debt Erased for Black Women at Bennett College

In North Carolina, students at Bennett College with past-due tuition bills in collection will see $1.7 million of their debts erased.

A union of borrowers known as the Debt Collective purchased and paid off the student loans of nearly 500 Black women at Bennett, an all-women liberal arts HBCU in Greensboro.

Bennett College issued this statement about the cancellation:

“We understand that this has been an exceptionally challenging time and want to ease people’s burdens. The debts that were erased for these 462 individuals were debts owed directly to the school. These debts are different from federal and private student loans, which we do not have the ability to cancel because they are owned by the federal government.”

The group describes itself as a debtor’s union, with dues-paying members. It’s partially because of those funds that the collective was able to coordinate the buyout of the Bennett College debt.

The Debt Collective acquired the debt through a sister entity known as the Rolling Jubilee, a nonprofit that buys and discharges medical, carceral and other forms of consumer debt.

Braxton Brewington, a spokesman for the organization, said they chose Bennett College in North Carolina because Black women on average have higher student loan balances than any other group of borrowers. The debt cleared does not include federal student loans, only money owed directly to the school.

“These are the people that are really taking the brunt of the student debt crisis,” Brewington said.

Bennett College pulled $1.7 million in student debts the college had sent to collections and instead allowed the Rolling Jubilee to buy it. That price? $50,000, or about three cents on the dollar.

The Debt Collective’s model for eliminating student debts isn’t going to solve the debt crisis. Rather, Brewington said, the group’s hope is to highlight how cheaply and easily debt can be cleared.

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2 mins read

157 Year Old HBCU, Lincoln College Now Closed Following Covid-19 And Cyberattack Related Struggles

Lincoln College survived the economic crisis of 1887, a major campus fire in 1912, the Spanish flu of 1918, the Great Depression, World War II, the 2008 global financial crisis, and more.

Unfortunately, the Illinois-based institution has finally met its match and closed its doors for good today.

Despite record-breaking student enrollment in Fall 2019, the coronavirus pandemic dramatically impacted recruitment and fundraising efforts, sporting events, and all campus life activities.

lincoln college
Ke’Shawn Hess, a business student at Lincoln College | Credit: (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)/Chicago Tribune via AP)

The economic burdens initiated by the pandemic required large investments in technology and campus safety measures, as well as a significant drop in enrollment with students choosing to postpone college or take a leave of absence, which impacted the institution’s financial position.

According to a statement on the school website, Lincoln College was also a victim of a cyberattack in December 2021 that thwarted admissions activities and hindered access to all institutional data, creating an unclear picture of Fall 2022 enrollment projections.

All systems required for recruitment, retention, and fundraising efforts were inoperable. Fortunately, no personal identifying information was exposed. Once fully restored in March 2022, the projections showed significant enrollment shortfalls, requiring a transformational donation or partnership to sustain Lincoln College beyond the current semester.

A Facebook group called Save Lincoln College tried unsuccessfully to help the school keep its doors open. The school, named after President Abraham Lincoln, held its final graduation last week.

“Everyone started leaving and we said our goodbyes, but we kind of realized we weren’t coming back,” a student said. “Other universities are offering them tuition and allowing them to start into the programs there but there’s never going to be a place like Lincoln.”


Tony O. Lawson

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