“I Wish I’d Had An Opportunity [To Attend An HBCU]” | Chris Paul Appointed To President’s HBCU Board Of Advisors

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The HBCU landscape has been highly enriched recently, with former and current sports stars reaching back to some schools. Now Chris Paul is adding his unique brand of panache to help the HBCU space.

President Joe Biden recently announced his appointment of Paul and a group of “qualified and diverse leaders to the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs),” according to a White House statement.

The President’s Board advances the HBCU Initiative, which President Jimmy Carter’s administration established. The goal is “to increase the capacity of HBCUs to provide the highest-quality education to its students and continue serving as engines of opportunity.”

Leaders Of The New (HBCU) School

Paul now joins an elite group of professional sports stars that contribute to HBCUs’ success, except Paul is doing it under the auspices of the White House.

From Deion Sanders’ crusade to step up the level of opportunities for HBCU football players to LeBron James outfitting the Florida A&M teams with his gear, HBCU sports are finding layers of support.

Paul is a twelve-time NBA All-Star who’s now with the Phoenix Suns, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and one of the NBA’s 75 greatest players in NBA history.

By joining the President’s Board of Advisors, he is part of an official group that issues budgets for an annual federal plan for assistance to HBCUs.

Seat At The Table

In addition to working with HBCUs in federally-sponsored programs, Paul will now be able to advise the Secretary of Education and make recommendations to the President.

Through the American Rescue Plan, the Biden administration is aiding HBCUs with grant funding and forgiving the capital improvement debt of many of these institutions. Now Paul has a seat at the table influencing the more than $5.8 billion in support committed by the Biden administration.

Reestablishing the White House HBCU Initiative — and appointing qualified and diverse individuals to the board — will allow the administration to build on that financial commitment with continued institutional support.

A Legacy Of Leadership

Paul has been a leader in the NBA for years. Although he attended Wake Forest University to play his college basketball, Paul enrolled at Winston-Salem State University in 2020.

He teamed up with Winston-Salem State University Student Government Association to organize “March to the Polls Pt. 2,” a student-led initiative to encourage early voting.

Paul enrolled in two communications classes at WSSU, planning to complete his degree and eventually walk the commencement stage.

“I’m not where I am today without my experience at Wake Forest,” Paul told GQ in 2020. “But I was also lucky to be right down the street from Winston-Salem State University. …Honestly, deep down inside, I wish I’d had an opportunity [to attend an HBCU]. They mean everything to me.”

From The Players Association To HBCU Leadership

For eight years, Paul was the National Basketball Players Association president. Through his advocacy for HBCUs via the Chris Paul Family Foundation, he has added to the educational offerings of certain schools like NC A&T, Southern University, Winston-Salem State, and Clark Atlanta University.

Paul has expanded a business of entertainment media and sports special topics course to the aforementioned schools, using his entrepreneurial experience as the primer.

Paul’s production company, Ohh Dip!!! has produced content across multiple platforms, including the “Why Not Us” franchise of shows with N.C. Central men’s basketball and FAMU football team. The eight-episode docuseries on ESPN showed behind the scenes of the HBCU teams.

Tale Of The Tape

Paul also co-launched the Social Change Fund United, “dedicated to investing in and supporting organizations focused on empowering communities of color and advocating for the human rights of all Black lives,” according to a statement.

Paul is also the most recent recipient of the inaugural Kobe and Gigi Bryant Advocacy Award for his significant contributions to the advancement of girls and women’s basketball and advocacy for the WNBA.

With HBCUs now receiving the attention they deserve from current and former Black professional athletes, Paul’s appointment is another step toward cultural ownership and diversity advancement.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.