At JSU, U.S. Army Secretary McCarthy presents $2.8M to HBCU presidents, seeks more diversity, inclusion in the military
(JACKSON, Miss.) — Seeking greater inclusion and diversity in the
military, U.S. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy convened Wednesday at JSU with
leaders of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other
influencers during a daylong forum and presented a $2.8 million check to
be divided among 26 HBCUs.
In May, the New York Times reported that African Americans are highly
visible in the military but invisible at the top – even as 43 percent of
the 1.3 million men and women on active duty in the U.S. military are
people of color.
McCarthy, acknowledging the disproportionate numbers, said the Army is
committed to improving these statistics.
“We start at great universities like here at Jackson State, and we get
them into the pipeline,” McCarthy said. He said higher-learning
institutions such as HBCUs produce excellent talent in many disciplines,
including STEM, that would support the mission of the Army to defend and
to protect the nation and develop strong leaders.
He said the Army seeks “young men and women who can meet our standards on
the front end, and then we can mentor them along the way.”
Serving as host, Acting JSU President Thomas K. Hudson touted the occasion
as a “great opportunity” for the urban institution and its HBCU
counterparts. Hudson expressed confidence that the partnership with the
The Army would contribute to the military’s goals of inclusion and diversity.
“The secretary being here really highlights our great programs that we
have at Jackson State University,” said Hudson, also expressing
appreciation for JSU serving as the host for the secretary, senior
military officers, veterans, cadets, community influencers and
organizations such as the local NAACP.
Hudson also acknowledged the important involvement of the National
Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) that consists of the nine African American
Greek organizations that are often identified as the Divine 9.
Hudson added that the partnership supports “our ability to be a really
good partner, and it helps the Army reach its goals.” Hudson also pointed
to the rich history of JSU, its academic programs, dedicated students and
research opportunities through its academic channels as a means of
supporting the Army.
He also agreed that the South, in particular, is a great location for the
military to recruit service members in the armed forces who can help shape
McCarthy said, “There’s a lot of tough, resilient kids right here in
Mississippi. We want to get as many people as we can in our formation.”
Later, McCarthy conducted a swear-in for future soldiers and presented
three cadets with nearly $45,000 scholarships each for the next three
As mentioned, the NPHC was pivotal in helping to facilitate the
Dr. David Marion, chair of the NPHC and the 41st Grand Basileus of the
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., said his Greek organization works
collaboratively with HBCUs. In fact, his organization has an HBCU
Initiative Committee that is composed of HBCU presidents or former
presidents who are members of the Omega fraternity and who decide how to
dole out scholarship money to predominantly black institutions in support
of their endeavors.
Marion said its critically important for the Army to invest in future
leadership. As a result, he has dedicated himself to providing assistance
and building on the partnership with the Army that would guarantee parity,
equality, and advancement for service members of color.
McCarthy, meanwhile, said he embraces the efforts of the Omega Psi Phi
Fraternity, Inc., along with JSU and other partners.
“That’s critical for us to understand. When we come forward we can show
results based on the strength of that institution’s disciplines.” He said
there’s a tremendous need for service members with high aptitude which is
why the Army is strongly supporting the initiative for diversity and
“We invest in everything,” he said. As the Army seeks quality individuals,
he said the military always invests in young people who can help develop
satellites, tanks, helicopters, etc. In fact, he said, the U.S. Research
and Development Command, for example, is central in developing a COVID-19
vaccine. He added that Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of
Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House
coronavirus response coordinator, both started their careers in the U.S.
“The more we understand the opportunities that exist the more we’ll also
know it presents a chance for young men and women to have a future they
might not have had. The Army helped me to get to college. I’m the first
person in my family to become an Army officer. I owe a great deal to the
institution, so that’s why I try to keep giving back,” McCarthy said.