As head of the United Negro College Fund, Michael Lomax has a hard job. The hardest part of that job is probably raising money, which is why Lomax recently faced a firestorm of criticism when he accepted a $25 million dollar gift from the conservative Koch brothers.
While attending a panel at a Koch retreat, Lomax defended his decision not to be aligned with any political party or ideology.
“So at the UNCF, we’re, we’re not big idea people. We’re not ideological. We’re just trying to move a needle. And the needle that we’ve been trying to move for 70 years is getting African-American kids to and through college. We started doing that at the end of World War II in 1944. We couldn’t do it by ourselves. And we worked with business leadership in this country, John D. Rockefeller (Inaudible) our first campaign with $750,000 in 1944. And over the 70 intervening years, we’ve raised $4 billion (inaudible),” Lomax said.
At the retreat, Lomax sat through some extremely right wing views, with participant Richard Fink blasting President Obama for his “collectivist” approach and the president’s support of minimum wage, which could, according to Fink, lead to fascism.
Lomax went on to say that the most important thing for African-American kids is to get an education, not ideology.
“What I will tell you is that students want the opportunity to pursue their academics without worrying about how they’re going to pay. And this is going to give good students the chance to focus what they need to focus on (inaudible). We’re going to focus on two areas that they’re going to work on across institutions and in the network, and that is entrepreneurship and innovation. And the only thing I will tell you that African-American kids want more than a college degree is a successful career, and many of them want to work for great companies like Koch Industries and a whole lot of them want to start there.”