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Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

'I'm Just Doing What I'm Supposed to Do': Keshia Knight Pulliam Pays It Forward With HBCU Class in Session Series

The Tyler Perry's House of Payne star is partnering with Now and Later to teach at Clark Atlanta University.

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In its efforts to recognize the hustle of the aspiring entrepreneurs and go-getters sprinkled throughout historically Black colleges and universities throughout the country, Now and Later has launched its #RecognizetheCHEW Class in Session Series to showcase the impact of the HBCU experience.

As a part of this campaign, Now and Later is partnering with Clark Atlanta University’s Mass Media Arts department and the Cathy Hughes School of Communications at Howard University, where Keshia Knight Pulliam and Terrence J will each teach classes to help inspire the next generation of Black leaders. Additionally, each school will receive a $10,000 donation to establish a scholarship fund for students who chose to participate and learn from HBCU alumni who’ve gone on to thrive in their careers and who’ve mastered the “art of the hustle” in their respective industries.

In speaking to The Root, the newly-married Knight Pulliam explained what made her decide to become more involved in this campaign and what students can expect from her class at CAU.

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“I’m excited to partner with Now and Later,” she began. “The ‘Chew’ stands for ‘Champion, Hustle, Empower, and Win’. It’s an awesome opportunity to bring light to historically Black colleges and universities, but also to support them with the $10,000 financial grant toward starting a scholarship.”

She continued, “Also in bringing in myself and Terrence J. He’s going to Howard University, I’m going to Clark Atlanta University, and the classes that we’re doing will be live-streamed so that everyone will have the opportunity to view them. It’s just important to be there and to share your story, to share your journey, to share all of the different parts. Because so often we only share the highlight reel. [This gives us] the opportunity to tell students that the successful people aren’t the ones that have been knocked down, but the ones who keep getting up.”

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For those wondering what you can expect from Knight Pulliam’s virtual class, yes, she’ll be drawing from her years of experience as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist, but don’t expect anything formal.

“It’s going to be like very much a fireside chat,” she said. “It’s going to be conversational where they also have the opportunity to ask questions. What you can expect is who I am. It’s authenticity. It’s honesty. It’s sharing my unique perspective and doing it from a space of optimism because that’s who I am. [...] It’s really about tapping into your joys to find your purpose. And when you find your passion, the money will come.”

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She also explained what made her decide to become more involved in our education system, specifically as it pertains to HBCUs and their roles as incubators for Black excellence.

“I’m a Spelman graduate,” she said. “Two of my brothers are Morehouse graduates. It’s part of our family legacy. I know the value of it first hand because I’m a graduate and I feel like in our community it’s important. That’s part of our charge. It’s about reaching back to pull forward. As you achieve, you teach. As you learn and grow, you impart that wisdom. So I’m just doing what I’m supposed to do.”

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Knight Pulliam also offered some suggestions on how each of us can better support the mission of HBCUs outside of merely cutting a million-dollar check.

“By attending, by donating whether you’re a graduate or if you’re not a graduate,” she said. “There are so many opportunities to give. [...] We have to support them if we want to continue to see them around for our children and our children’s children. We have to actively support in every way that we can.

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“I understand some people may not have the ability to write big checks, and that’s OK. Volunteering your time is money. It is valuable and is important. And also just acknowledging and letting our kids know that when it’s time to go to college, that these HBCUs are options and they’re not just second-rate options. They are the top-notch options because our talent has to continue to come through these schools and continue to matriculate and graduate, to go out here and to change the world that we live in. It’s very much a round-robin. There are so many ways you can show your support.”

In partnering with Now and Later for this campaign, Knight Pulliam considers the company’s commitment to HBCUs as its way of giving back (in part) to a community that has always had its back. But according to the Tyler Perry’s House of Payne star, this is initiative is just the beginning.

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“It’s a brand that is synonymous with our culture and the fact that so many of us have supported it over the years,” she said. “I feel like it’s also part of their duty to give back and pay it forward to the base that’s supported their brand. Yes, $10,000 is nice, but I’m challenging Now and Later next time to exponentially grow that amount and for it to be beyond Howard, beyond Clark Atlanta University. We have so many HBCU in this country. So there’s a lot of support that’s needed. So let’s get behind this so we can show them that this is of value, that this is important to us. This matters to us and we need you to continue to support what matters to us.”

To learn more about the #RecognizetheCHEW Class in Session Series and Now and Later’s support of HBCUs, check out their website.

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