Vice President Kamala Harris Teams Up with ‘A Different World’ Cast to Support HBCUs and Student Debt Relief

Vice President Kamala Harris Teams Up with ‘A Different World’ Cast to Support HBCUs and Student Debt Relief
  • PublishedApril 14, 2024

In a notable engagement at the White House, Vice President Kamala Harris, the first Black vice president of the United States, collaborated with the cast of the beloved 1990s sitcom “A Different World” to spotlight the importance of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and address the ongoing challenges of student debt.

During a special event inside the West Wing, Harris and the sitcom stars released a video promoting federal student debt relief programs. Jasmine Guy and Kadeem Hardison, who portrayed the iconic characters Whitley Gilbert and Dwayne Wayne, respectively, were seen in the video at the White House, rekindling their roles from the series, which is famously set in the fictional HBCU Hillman College.

The video aired on Friday featured poignant remarks from the Vice President, emphasizing the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to alleviating the burden of student loans. “Whether you graduated from Hillman or the real H-U, student loan debt is a burden for far too many people these days, and we’re doing something about it,” Harris stated in the video, referring to her alma mater Howard University.

The engagement continued on Saturday with another video where additional cast members, including Cree Summer, Dawnn Lewis, Chernele Brown, and Daryl Bell, participated in a reenactment of the sitcom’s introduction, filmed outside the West Wing.

The actors’ visit was part of a broader HBCU tour organized by the White House Office of Public Engagement aimed at promoting enrollment and increasing scholarship funds for current and prospective students. Discussions during their visit focused on the rising costs of higher education and the Biden-Harris administration’s significant investment in HBCUs, which has exceeded $7 billion.

Adding to the excitement, the administration announced a new student loan debt relief strategy just one day prior to the actors’ visit. Termed “Plan B” after the original plan was struck down by the Supreme Court, this strategy proposes several relief methods, including debt cancellation for long-term borrowers under specific conditions.

The ongoing efforts are expected to provide significant relief to approximately 30 million borrowers, with a notable impact on Black and Latino communities. To date, the administration has canceled $146 billion in student loan debt, benefiting four million Americans.

The cast of “A Different World” shared their perspectives on the necessity of economic relief for Black students, emphasizing the undue financial burdens that many face starting out in life. The actors also reflected on the symbolic importance of their visit to the White House, viewing it as a springboard for further progress and a reminder of the ongoing need for active engagement and advocacy.

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