WASHINGTON – Michael Bloomberg, whose $100 million gift has lifted the financial fortunes of medical school students at HBCUs across the nation, urged Americans to continue the process of reckoning with the country's long history of racial injustice.
“We are still living with the effects of generations of racial theft and violence, and that includes a COVID-19 death rate for Black America that has been twice the rate of white Americans,” Bloomberg said in a commencement address at the Howard University College of Medicine. “That national tragedy has shown a bright spotlight on the need to confront the long, lingering and large-scale legacy of racial discrimination in America.”
Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, continued: “I was taught as a child that all of us have a role to play in battling the racial discrimination that was holding America back then and is still holding us back now.”
Last year, Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies made a $31.7 million gift to support scholarships for current Howard University College of Medicine students with financial need. The Bloomberg Gift was the largest donation in the college’s history.
Altogether, Bloomberg gave $100 million to the nation’s four Black medical schools. In his speech, he said he gave the money out of love for the country, his belief in its promise, and to contribute to efforts to battle extreme disparities in U.S. society. His full address can be found on video here and via transcript here.
“When the average Black family in America has one-tenth the wealth of the average white family, that is unbelievable and a national disgrace,” Bloomberg said. “When life expectancy is six years shorter than it is for White Americans, that is also a national disgrace.”
Bloomberg pointed to data showing that 25 percent of practicing Black doctors default on educational loans within six years, compared to only 11 percent of white doctors. Black patients are 34 percent more likely to receive preventive care measures when they are seen by Black doctors, yet only five percent of the nation’s doctors are Black.
“If we can help you and other Black doctors pay off your loans, you can focus on why you wanted to wear that long white coat: to treat patients, cure diseases, save lives and strengthen communities,” Bloomberg said.
Members of the first class of Howard medical students to benefit from the Bloomberg gift have acknowledged how the Bloomberg gift is likely to change their lives as they move into the next phase of their careers.
Howard University President Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick said Howard University was proud to have graduated more African-American physicians than any single institution in the country. The University also sends more African-American students from its undergraduate campus to medical school. Dr. Frederick expressed gratitude to Bloomberg, saying school debt, especially for minority medical students, was “absolutely astronomical.”
“Howard University has the seventh-most selective medical school in this country; however, we charge the fifth-lowest tuition of any medical school in this country,” Dr. Frederick said.
He added that the University hoped to double the medical school class and eventually offer free medical school education to qualified students who can’t afford it.
“We want you to able to go after your dreams in the best way possible,” Dr. Frederick said. “But at Howard University, we will not limit our dreams because of what we can and cannot afford.”
About Howard University
Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue more than 140 programs of study leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced one Schwarzman Scholar, three Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 12 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard also produces more on-campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit www.howard.edu.
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