Record amount of donations raised for United Negro College Fund at Charlotte’s Mayor’s Masked Ball

This year's event at the Westin Hotel raised a record one point six million dollars to help deserving students pursue college degrees.
Published: Mar. 21, 2022 at 10:21 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - It was billed as a party with a purpose, and over the weekend the festive gathering raised money for higher education.

More than 900 people all with COVID vaccination cards showed up at the Eighth Annual Mayor’s Masked Ball to benefit the United Negro College Fund.

This year’s event at the Westin Hotel raised a record $1.6 million to help deserving students pursue college degrees.

The fundraising initiative helps a number of schools in our area and has been around for decades.

Without question, the historic election of Kamala Harris as the country’s first African American vice president in many ways validates the importance of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Her alma mater of Washington D.C.’s Howard University is one of more than three dozen member schools supported in part by the United Negro College Fund.

Collectively applauding the importance of HBCUs were former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt, his wife Cindy, along with Former Bank Of America President Hugh McColl and his wife Jane.

They were the honorees of the Mayor’s Masked Ball designed to raise money and awareness connected to North Carolina’s UNCF schools.

" What I admire is how long UNCF has been around. Very resilient. Very strong and making Black Colleges stronger,” Gantt said.

Clarence Armbrister is the President of Charlotte’s Johnson C. Smith University which is one of five UNCF schools in North Carolina.

“HBCUs, we fight above and we punch above our weight, " he told WBTV. ”We create more African American doctors, lawyers, or engineers than any other group.”

His counterpart, Dr. Paulette Dillard from Raleigh’s Shaw University agrees.

First established in 1865, Dillard calls the early places of learning for African Americans students vital little engines that can and do.

She said. “We give folks the dream of the possible, because of your socioeconomic status, it doesn’t talk about your potential.”

However, what is being talked about these days is the safety of these predominately black campuses considering that the FBI has investigated more than 50 bomb threats being reported at HBCUs during January and February of this year.

Milton Jones is the National Chairman of the UNCF board of directors.

“People who attack great aspects of what we have obviously don’t understand how important those institutions are,” Jones said.

Showcasing their importance was front and center during this formal affair, and comes at a time local institutions like Salisbury’s Livingstone College another UNCF school has just opened a new multi-million dollar Stem Center.

Proof positive that such an investment in higher education has the potential of improving one’s lot in life.

“The miracle is watching the changes these colleges have caused. I’ve seen students who were living in public housing in this community go to an HBCU, " Gantt said. ”They’re now teachers. They’re now doctors, they’re now engineers, and one wonders if that opportunity would ever be afforded.”

In addition to the record amount of local donations from the Mayors Masked Ball, a new scholarship program was unveiled.

It is called the Gantt McColl scholarship and will provide opportunities for 20 CMS students to attended colleges of their choice.

Five UNCF schools can be found in North Carolina. They are Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, Livingstone College in Salisbury, Greensboro’s Bennett College, and Saint Augustine’s and Shaw University both located in Raleigh.

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