UNCF Shouldn't Apologize for $25 Million Koch Brothers Donation

By Roland S. Martin

June 13, 2014 5 min read

The American body politic is so divided, hostile, suspicious and downright angry that even a donation by two right-wing conservative brothers to a group focused on educating African-Americans is considered an assault against our black ancestors.

When it comes to progressive causes, Charles and David Koch are the embodiment of Lucifer. Democrats despise them, accusing them of desiring to take over the nation by spending millions of their billions to elect right-wing conservatives and libertarians to offices nationwide.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid invokes their name as if they were mass murderers, and liberal TV, radio and online outlets trash them with impunity. As for the Koch brothers, they don't care. They are focused on spending upward of $300 million in this year's election cycle to push candidates they prefer in office.

So what does any of this have to do with their foundation making a $25 million donation to the 90-year-old, nonpartisan the United Negro College Fund? Absolutely nothing.

Critics say the Kochs are trying to curry favor with African-Americans in order to mask their devilish political plans. Others are calling the $25 million "blood money," and assailing Michael Lomax, president and CEO of UNCF, as a turncoat, an Uncle Tom, a traitor to his race.

This vicious assault on the UNCF is shameful, despicable and downright pathetic.

For decades the UNCF has raised money from a variety of sources: liberals and conservatives; Democrats and Republicans; big business and small business; whites and blacks; you name it, folks from all kinds of backgrounds have donated the $3.6 billion raised by the group in its history, and have helped more than 400,000 students attend college.

As Lomax said on my TV One daily show, "NewsOne Now," there should be no litmus test for the UNCF. In fact, he said the Koch brothers have donated about $1.5 million to the UNCF since 2005, after purchasing the company Georgia Southern.

I understand the passion of those who despise the Kochs' political positions, but that shouldn't disqualify them from donating to the UNCF. In fact, while critics blast the Kochs for trying to buy the electorate, shouldn't they take pride in beating back their millions in trying to defeat President Barack Obama in 2012?

Black folks turned out in massive numbers in 2008 and 2012, organizing, mobilizing and standing up to big-money interests, and that resulted in their preferred candidate winning the White House.

The UNCF is a nonpartisan group. They should remain that way and not begin to assess the motivation of someone making a donation to them. Yes, they reserve the right to say no to any donation, but doing so here makes no sense. This isn't Donald Sterling all of a sudden writing a check. The Kochs have history with the UNCF.

Former President George W. Bush left office with his legacy in tatters, but if he chose to lead a capital campaign for the UNCF or a historically black college, should the door be slammed in his face? No. Who cares if he's a Republican?

At some point we have to stop being so nasty and cynical, and not allow our political viewpoints to get in the way of what the UNCF is all about: educating those attending member schools.

Right now students are carrying a $1.3 trillion debt load. Every year more and more are clamoring for money. Yet critics are trashing this donation? This is silly.

If you're African-American and don't like the Koch brothers, fine. Just say thanks for the UNCF money. Now watch us kick your butt at the ballot box. Isn't that the way it should be?

Roland S. Martin is senior political analyst for TV One and author of the book "The First: President Barack Obama's Road to the White House as Originally Reported by Roland S. Martin." Please visit his website at www.RolandSMartin.com. To find out more about Roland S. Martin and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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