This weekend, HBCUs will be representing during NASCAR’s regular-season finale. (I know, I can’t believe I typed that myself.)
Three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin, who combined superpowers with Michael Jordan to form their own NASCAR Series Cup team in September, will be pulling up to Saturday’s Daytona Cup in a car that will feature the logos of four historically Black institutions on the back bumper: Jackson State, Tennessee State, Mississippi Valley State, and Lemoyne Owen. This demonstration of support is in partnership with FedEx’s Shaping Black Futures initiative, which seeks to help “shape the future of Black students and foster relationships for talent and recruitment pipeline development across a diverse range of HBCUs,” according to a press release provided to The Root.
“It’s about showing our support to these HBCU campuses,” Hamlin says in a video announcing the partnership. “Because, ultimately, that’s how we make change, right?”
In the announcement video, Hamlin is joined by Bubba Wallace—who has encountered more than his fair share of challenges as one of the only Black faces in the sport—Ashley Robinson, Jackson State’s Athletic Director; Brian “Penny” Collins, head basketball coach at Tennessee State; and ESPN personality Elle Duncan.
“FedEx has been supporting (HBCUs) for 20 years,” Robinson says. “All the scholarships and all the things that they have been doing—endowed scholarships they’ve done at Jackson State University—have been very, very helpful. The continuing support continues to upgrade that education for students.”
Additionally, FedEx will be hosting a virtual HBCU Presidents’ Roundtable on Sept. 9 that will feature various leaders from historically Black institutions throughout the country.
All the love that HBCUs have been getting as of late has been great, but it’s important that these same corporations showering these institutions with praise are also doing the work. And it appears that FedEx has been consistent in that regard for decades now.