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“Morehouse Man” Spike Lee is paying it forward at his alma mater.
The director, who graduated from the college in 1979, is teaming with his agency, Gersh, for the Spike Fellows Program, which kicks off this month and will support students from Morehouse, Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University, which together form the Atlanta University Center Consortium.
“I know firsthand the education one receives at a Historically Black College and University,” Lee said in a statement. “I am who I am because of my grandmother [Zimmie Jackson] and my mother [Jacquelyn Shelton Lee] who both graduated from Spelman College. I am who I am because of my grandfather [Richard Jackson Shelton] and my father [William Lee] who both graduated from Morehouse. It’s on the campuses of Spelman and Morehouse where they met, fell in love and got married. As my elders often told me, ‘Deeds not words’.”
Those deeds will include student loan debt relief, entertainment industry mentorship, post-graduate internships and full-time employment, all provided by Gersh. Five AUCC graduates, selected by a panel consisting of Lee, the AUCC community and Gersh management, will comprise the inaugural Spike Fellows class.
“As industry leaders, we’ve always taken seriously the responsibility to build a more diverse, dynamic ecosystem in which people of all ethnicities, backgrounds and experiences can thrive,” Gersh senior managing partner Leslie Siebert said in a statement. “We are honored that Spike has chosen us to be his inaugural partner, and we are proud to welcome the five inaugural Spike Fellows into our organization.”
Lee and the agency have made a multi-year commitment and plan to expand the program with more fellows and more resources in the future.
“I joined Gersh to lead the charge in identifying powerful opportunities and signature moments to advance cultural competence and accelerate social impact,” the agency’s head of culture Jayson Council, who will lead the fellowship program, said in a statement. “As an HBCU graduate, I am extremely proud of Gersh and Spike for their commitment to growing opportunities for AUCC graduates.”
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James Gordon Meek