HBCU Buzz founder Luke Lawal Jr. has big plans for the future

HBCU Buzz founder shares the journey of creating the site for students and alumni of historically Black colleges and universities
HBCU Buzz Founder Luke Anthony Lawal, Jr. Toast to Black Excellence during HBCU Homecoming with DIAGEO and its Brands CÎROC, Crown Royal, Tequila Don Julio and Tanqueray. (Photo credit: LaVan Anderson/Everyday LaVan)
Actress Ashley Blaine Featherson-Jenkins and HBCU Buzz founder Luke Anthony Lawal Jr. at Toast to Black Excellence during HBCU homecoming with Diageo and its brands CÎROC, Crown Royal, Don Julio and Tanqueray. (Photo credit: LaVan Anderson / Everyday LaVan)

HBCU Buzz was founded by Luke Lawal Jr. to promote awareness of HBCU culture. In the intervening decade, the media outlet has amassed a huge social media following.

Now Lawal is working with a partner and supporter of HBCUs, Diageo, which recently pledged $10 million for the creation of permanent endowments at 25 HBCUs to help shape a more equitable society. 


Lawal talked about the impact impact his website has had on the HBCU community and beyond.  

What motivated you to launch the HBCU Buzz website?


Mainstream media only depicted HBCUs as negative and whenever something happened negative on our campus, or somebody died, or the university fired someone for embezzling, that’s the only time you’ve seen us in mainstream media. That’s where we saw the void. Not only are we sharing the wonderful things that are happening, but now we have to be a resource to people that are interested in the space. Today, we’re just doubling down on that mission. 

Mainstream media [is] starting to pay attention to how can we help and enrich the HBCU space. So HBCU Buzz has been doing the work for over a decade, but I think in the last three years we’ve become a resource for people [who] are not familiar with the space to understand what’s happening.

How has the timing of creating it impacted coverage of HBCUs?

When I started HBCU Buzz in 2011, I think our strategy around that time was not just to erase the stigma. We always wanted to also be a resource.

I think in the past two or three years, HBCUs have become more relevant because of the George Floyd situation and all of the injustices that occurred during COVID in Atlanta. 

Talk about partnering with Diageo and its family of  popular brands. 

It goes along with our mission, which is enriching HBCU students and the next legacy of change makers. When I think of our top 30 under 30 that we started in 2015, the goal was to try to figure out how we can highlight 30 individuals from our space that are killing it in their respective industries. When you think of all of the wonderful things that Diageo has done and committed to HBCUs, it was a great way for us to partner and celebrate the legacy and lineage that is continuing in our space.

How do you compile the HBCU Buzz Top 30 under 30?

We have a committee from different schools, and we put out a form for nominations and I think we got over about 15,000 to 20,000 nominations. 

I think that’s the goal with the list. How can we take the change makers in their small community or the people [who] are making the most impact and make sure that the rest of the world knows a lot of their experience and their skills came from when they were on [HBCU] campuses.

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