United Negro College Fund President and CEO Michael Lomax has been bragging about how he won over the black community for his controversial $25 million “Koch Scholars” partnership with Charles and David Koch, all while slamming his critics, according to Salon.
According to the news site, which was provided exclusive audio from the June retreat of the billionaire brothers, Lomax reportedly told attendees at the extravagant event about how he had won the favor of radio host Tom Joyner, overriding the complaints of those side-eyeing the partnership.
After it was announced in early June that the brothers would be making one of the largest monetary gifts the UNCF had ever received, some criticisms targeted the brothers themselves for their support of right-wing organizations during elections. Some saw the grant as the opening of an opportunity to appeal to minority voters in the upcoming elections.
The grant targets nearly 3,000 merit-based awards to African-American undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students seeking scholarships, according to the release. It will also help the 37 UNCF-member HBCUs by offsetting funding shortfalls that set in during the economic downturn.
At the retreat, Lomax, one of two outside speakers, praised the Koch brothers for their support of the UNCF before targeting his critics who, he said, accused him of using the grant to promote “mind control,” Salon reports.
“One of the criticisms we got from this was—mind control,” Lomax allegedly joked, according to the transcript in the Salon article. “They have not met the kids—I can’t control my own kids.”
He continued, according to the transcript:
What I will tell you is that students want the opportunity to pursue their academics without worrying about how they’re going to pay. And this is going to give good students the chance to focus what they need to focus on (inaudible). We’re going to focus on two areas that they’re going to work on across institutions and in the network, and that is entrepreneurship and innovation. And the only thing I will tell you that African-American kids want more than a college degree is a successful career, and many of them want to work for great companies like Koch Industries and a whole lot of them want to start there. And so, I think that the one thing that we’re not hearing is that these folks don’t know anything about running a business. And so, we’re expecting that our students are going to [get] a chance to learn from their successes.
He marveled that the partnership plan “survived” the week, voicing the uncertainties he had until he won Joyner’s approval. Of course, he first had to explain to those in the room exactly who Joyner was, Salon points out.
“Well, I would say, first of all, that we survived this week, the announcement of this partnership. I wasn’t sure,” he told attendees. “When I went on the Tom Joyner Morning Show—I know you all probably don’t [know who] Tom Joyner [is] … And he is noted for black radio in the morning-drive time, and gave me a hard time about it. And finally Tom Joyner said, ‘You know, do good. Do good.’ And he said, ‘You know, I’m fine with it.’”
Read more at Salon.