MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Several historically Black colleges and universities will be in the national spotlight this weekend at the Coke Zero Sugar 400 in Daytona, Florida.
NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin will be driving the FedEx car, with a special paint job highlighting HBCUs. Four HBCU’s will be featured on the back of the car he will be driving: Jackson State University, Tennessee State University, LeMoyne-Owen College and Mississippi Valley State University.
“Overwhelmed with gratitude,” said Dr. Vernell Bennett-Fairs, president of Lemoyne-Owen College. “You know FedEx, they have a long history of supporting HBCUs, especially mine, LeMoyne-Owen College, so this weekend’s NASCAR will provide national exposure and a spotlight on HBCUs.”
Thomas Hudson, President of Jackson State University, says there’s already excitement looking ahead to the weekend.
“It’s already been a great initiative, a lot of buzz that’s being created and we’re really, really looking forward to Saturday,” Hudson said.
He says they’re looking forward to having JSU’s brand featured so prominently.
“It’s important because it takes the JSU name and the other HBCUs’ name really where it hasn’t previously been,” Hudson said.
He said people might know about the JSU’s band, the Sonic Boom of the South, or their football program but this could lead to more engagement.
“So what this does is takes that JSU name really across the nation and across the world, really into those segments of the population where it hasn’t been as known and allows us to tell a great JSU story, a wonderful place to get your education, take it to a number of people who wouldn’t know otherwise,” Hudson said. “It’s more than just a logo on a car. It’s going to be deeper engagement and who knows where this might lead? Just a lot of possibilities here.”
Hudson said partnering with HBCUs brings a broad audience and a wide range of activity. He hopes other large companies follow FedEx’s lead.