Musician and producer Pharrell Williams, who wrote the 2013 hit song “Happy,” made a few students – including one from North Texas – happy Friday by promising to pay off their student loans.
Bedford’s Channing Hill was among five students and recent graduates from historically black colleges and universities who learned their loans would be repaid while participating in a panel discussion Friday in Washington, D.C., on the personal impact of the university loan. debt.
“I think my mom started dancing the praises when I called her,” Hill, who attends Howard University and is a graduate of Trinity High School in Euless, wrote on Instagram. “Today I enter my senior year with a clean slate.”
Friday’s discussion, hosted by the NAACP, was among a host of activities planned as part of Williams’ three-day “Something in the Water” festival in the nation’s capital over the June 16 weekend.
Williams created the festival in 2019 as a way to bring together people from many backgrounds, interests and political persuasions. He is part of the festival’s roster of featured artists, which also includes Anderson Paak, Jon Batiste and Usher.
NAACP President Derrick Johnson celebrated the students’ reactions by posting images of them, including Hill, looking shocked and in tears at the news.
Johnson also reiterated his call for President Joe Biden’s administration to forgive student loan debt for low-wage graduates and other students, especially those attending the nation’s 107 HBCUs.
“@Pharrell cancels all student loan debt,” Johnson tweeted. “@POTUS it’s your turn now to do the same for all Americans plagued by student debt.”
Just after @Pharrell surprised the young leaders of the NAACP by paying off ALL their student debt, someone asked “what are you going to do now?”
One student tearfully replied, “I’m going to law school.
That’s what it’s all about: unlocking opportunity for those who are historically oppressed.
—Derrick Johnson (@DerrickNAACP) June 17, 2022
According to a study by the NAACP, black Americans are the only group in the United States whose student loan debt is greater than their median annual income. Forgiving just $10,000 of debt would not put their student debt below their annual income, according to the NAACP.
Additionally, according to the civil rights organization, the average white family has 10 times the wealth of the average black family. Additionally, white college graduates have seven times more wealth than black college graduates, according to NAACP researchers.
Hill, a junior legal strategy and management communications student, told panelists she was worried that the $18,000 in student loans she had accrued would affect not only her, but her family as well.
She said her debt would likely affect her parents’ ability to borrow money to fund her younger sister’s undergraduate studies, which begin next year.
The other panelists — Damarius Davis of North Carolina A&T State University, Robyn Hughes of Southern University, Jamie Turner of Norfolk State University and Devan Vilfrard of Florida A&M University — shared similar concerns about growing college debt. Each of them is an NAACP student leader.
Hill, who is president of the Howard University NAACP student chapter, said she was speechless upon hearing the news. She had advocated for the Biden administration to cancel federal student loan debt.
“My God. I’m still in disbelief,” Hill wrote on Instagram. “Be active in this fight to cancel ALL student loans. Call Biden. Tell him it’s time.