Celebrities visit Spelman to discuss financial literacy, social justice

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Spelman College took full advantage of the White House Initiative on HBCUs “HBCU Week,” by inviting a trio of powerhouse entertainers and activists on campus to talk voting and financial literacy.

On Friday, pop star Alicia Keys and country star Brandi Carlile were on campus to talk about the importance of voting and social justice as the 2022 mid-term elections approach.

Recent polls show tight races for governor and U.S. Senate in Georgia. Some political experts believe young voters, like the students at Spelman, may tip the scales in the November races.

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Keys and Carlile, who collaborated on the 2020 hit, “A Beautiful Noise,” offered the Spelman students an intimate conversation, moderated by Student Government Association president Chandler Nutall, about strength in collective womanhood and power. The two sang with the students and encouraged them to continue to use their voice on and off campus.

Carlile said when writing “A Beautiful Noise,” with Keys and a team of women song-writers, she thought of Stacey Abrams, the Spelman graduate and Democratic candidate for Georgia governor.

“Georgia really matters to us,” Carlile said, pointing back to the 2020 election and the importance of the mid-terms. “You changed the world. You can change the whole country right now, right here. The whole world can learn from Georgia.”

Keys, who has become as significant in her social justice works as she has with her music, told the students that women had the “power of our voices and to not forget it and underestimate it.”

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

“We have to make sure that we have a plan and part of the plan is not to allow apathy to be invited into what we feel,” Keys said. “Sometimes you do feel discouraged. A lot of times our response is apathy and that is the worse thing we can do. Kick the doors down and the way that we kick the doors down is that we honor who we are.”

For the students, the words were appropriate.

“When it comes to voting and making those plans to vote it can be daunting,” said Nutall, who moderated a conversation with Abrams last week. “So when you have spaces for women to come and emphasize the importance of getting our voices heard, it is very important. They reminds us that we have a voice and that we can use it.”

At the end of their speeches on Friday, Keys and Carlile waded into the crowd of Spelman students and took selfies and shook hands, Carlile modeled a Spelman t-shirt that new President Helene Gayle presented her.

“You are activists and you are in the fight,” Carlile said. “When you do get in the door, make sure you bring your sisters with you.”

Credit: Spelman College

Credit: Spelman College

On Thursday, comedian and entertainment mogul Kevin Hart played to another full house in Sisters Chapel for an onstage conversation with sophomore Naya Welcher about financial literacy, wealth-building, and forging career and entrepreneurship pathways.

“Having Alicia and Kevin on campus emphasizes to everybody the importance of educating the Black community,” said Welcher, a math major from Stone Mountain. “Although they are popular for everyone, it is their mission to give back to where they came from.”

Hart told the students that he was a community college dropout who spent every check on new sneakers. When he started making real money, he racked up debt and faced tax problems because he didn’t know how to manage his finances.

“I was messing up. Everything that was financial I did wrong because nobody told me what was right. ” Hart told the students. “I am taking time to be here because there is value in my words. You don’t have to make the same mistakes I made. I am telling you that my frivolous ways set me up for failure.”

Estimates suggest that Hart is worth between $200-$450 million. He also owns an 85% stake in Hartbeat, his new multi-media venture with a valuation of $650 million.

“When you get to a place of success, you are supposed to share it,” Hart said. “That is the real work that needs to be done. Today is about me using that baton and passing that baton. Hopefully, the students are walking away with motivation and determination for tomorrow.”