Louisiana native and former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning has sponsored six endowed scholarships at historically Black colleges and universities, with the help of his foundation.
Manning grew up in New Orleans and went to Isidore Newman High School. Now famed NFL wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. also attended the school. After high school, Manning attended the University of Tennessee.
The scholarship awards went go to universities in the two states where he received his education. Four went to HBCUs in his home state of Louisiana. The remaining two went to black colleges in Tennessee.
The award for Grambling State University will bear the name of alumnus Doug Williams, the first Black quarterback to win a Super Bowl in 1987.
Williams, who currently serves as senior vice president for the Washington Football Team first learned that an “anonymous donor” was behind the donation.
He told ESPN, “Ha, you know 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. Peyton is a Louisiana boy. I know he’s given to a lot of wonderful causes without publicity, but this was a most pleasant surprise for me.”
Another award honors Harold Carmichael, a well-known standout wide receiver from Southern University. The 2020 Pro Football Hall of Famer was a star player at the Baton Rouge HBCU before becoming a Philadelphia Eagles legend.
Carmichael told ESPN, “I feel the same as Doug when it comes to what Peyton’s foundation is doing with HBCUs. It’s really an honor to have my name on that scholarship. I go back a long time with Archie, his dad. We played in a Pro Bowl together. I know this is not necessarily an athletic scholarship — HBCUs are much more than that — but when I played at Southern, all I got was $14 a month for laundry and there were times when even that money missed payments. An endowed scholarship with my name attached? I am really humbled and blessed.”
Tennessee State received an endowed scholarship in the name of Wilma Rudolph. In 1960, the notable sprinter became the first woman to win three gold medals in one year at the Olympics.
Three other HBCU scholarship endowments went to pillars in the Black community, not known for athletics.
Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee has an endowment named after Dr. Reavis L. Mitchell Jr. Mitchell taught for 40 years as a history professor and is cited in many publications and documentaries for his knowledge of African American heritage.
Xavier University of Louisiana’s endowment is named after Norman Francis, the school’s longtime president. Francis received a presidential medal of freedom in 2006 for his efforts in planning the recovery and rebuilding of New Orleans and surrounding areas after Hurricane Katrina.
Dillard University, also in New Orleans, has an endowment named after Dr. Michael Lomax, president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund. He has been president since 2004 and is a former university president.
When ESPN contacted Manning, he declined to speak about his personal involvement with the scholarships.
He did send this statement : “The Peyback Foundation is honored to partner with these six colleges to honor distinguished Alumni and staff members, and to help college students at these schools now and many years to come. Really, for perpetuity.”
Manning’s Peyback Foundation was founded in 1999 by Peyton and his wife, Ashley.
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