Future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning will sponsor six endowment scholarships at historically Black colleges and universities in Louisiana and Tennessee through his charity foundation.
Manning grew up in Louisiana and then went to college at the University of Tennessee. Both states have HBCUs that are vital to the state’s cultural identity and economy.
The scholarships will be named after influential individuals who have made an impact not only on their specific institutions but on the nation.
Doug Williams, who in 1987 became the first Black quarterback to win a Super Bowl, will be the namesake of a scholarship at his alma mater, Grambling State University.
Williams, now a Senior Vice President for the Washington Football Team, found out after making a few calls to Grambling State that Peyton’s foundation was responsible for the generous donations.
“When I asked who did this, I was told the donor wished it to be anonymous,” Williams told ESPN. “I have my connections at Grambling. I made a phone call and found out it was Peyton Manning’s foundation and it was endowing a half-dozen scholarships at historically Black colleges and universities.”
Track legend Wilma Rudolph, the first woman in history to win three gold medals in the Olympics, will have her name on the endowment scholarship at Tennessee State University.
Southern University alum and newly inducted football Hall of Famer Harold Carmichael, who made his name with the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1970s and early 1980s, will represent Southern’s new endowment scholarship.
Fisk University will honor Dr. Reavis L. Mitchell Jr. Mitchell Jr taught history for four decades and was a trusted voice on Black history before he passed away this June. Mitchell Jr’s expertise was used numerous times in historical publications and documentaries.
Dr. Norman Francis, who was instrumental in rebuilding the New Orleans community after Hurricane Katrina — and was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom — will hold the honor for Xavier University of Louisiana. Francis served nearly 50 years as the institution’s president.
Last but certainly not least, Dillard University will designate former university president and current United Negro College Fund President and CEO Dr. Michael Lomax as the namesake on their new endowment scholarship.
Manning’s generosity will take a step to help bridge the gap between HBCUs and larger predominantly white institutions, which have had access to more funding and have been able to generate larger endowments.
“I know he’s given to a lot of wonderful causes without publicity, but this was a most pleasant surprise for me,” Williams said. “I think Peyton needs to be recognized so we can expand the circle of potential donors out there for a great cause.”