On June 17, Pharrell Williams surprised five NAACP student leaders by paying off their student debt.
Robyn Hughes, Damarius Davis, Jamie Turner, Channing Hill and Devan Vilfrard were gathered at a panel to discuss the Black student debt crisis at St. Regis hotel in Washington D.C., according to ABC 7 News. The event was held before kicking off Pharrell Williams’ Something In the Water Festival.
“For all of you on the stage, we are clearing your current student loan debt,” a moderator said during the event. The students had shared stories about how finances have impacted their lives, from deciding which major to pursue to living arrangements and post-grad finances, according to the NAACP. Having their debts cleared will give them the opportunity to change their lives and give back.
When the students were asked what they would be doing now, Turner emotionally replied, “I’m going to law school.” Davis added that he had to occupy three jobs in his freshman year to make it through college.
“I literally had to work three jobs my freshmen year just to survive everything. My parents were struggling so just to have this… I am so grateful right now. I appreciate y’all so much thank you,” Davis said, according to Afrotech.
“Pharrell forever changed their lives. This was a powerful moment,” said Wisdom Cole, the NAACP’s National Director of Youth and College and panel organizer, according to ABC 7 News. “Now just imagine if President Biden made this a reality for all student debt holders in America.”