/  04.23.2022

Taraji P. Henson is a proud Howard University alum. She’s spoken at her alma mater on numerous occasions and the school recently announced the renowned actress will deliver the 2022 commencement speech for graduates in May. 

Next month, the White House’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) will be sworn in. Henson is one of 20 members selected to the board, which is composed of HBCU presidents, executives, NBA all-star Chris Paul, and students. 

In a new interview with theGrio’s April Ryan, Henson discussed her role on the Board of Advisors and how she plans to help HBCUs moving forward. 

The “Empire” actress who is currently working on a musical adaptation of The Color Purple said it is an “honor“ to have been asked to sit on the board and that she takes her role seriously.

“I think because they see that I am a product of an HBCU and my activism in the community, I guess that combination seemed like someone who would want to be on the board, and I am HBCU from the heart,” Henson said. 

 “I want to bring the student voices to the table…I’m there as their liaison,” she added.

Dr. Glenda Glover, the Vice-Chair of the White House HBCU advisory board, told theGrio why Henson will be a vital member of the board.

“She has access to pockets of our society and influence that will assist the board’s efforts to advance and promote educational equity, HBCU excellence, and economic opportunities for graduates and Black Americans as a whole,” Dr. Glover said.

The White House Board of Advisors on HBCUs was created through an executive order by President Jimmy Carter in 1980. The board is supposed to increase the capacity of HBCUs to provide the highest-quality education to its students and continue serving as engines of opportunity, according to The White House.

Henson plans to help HBCU students with their mental health, a topic she has become increasingly passionate about in recent years. 

Mental health is very important…I’m going to make sure that we have the resources that we need on every campus of the HBCUs,” she told Ryan. “And we need those resources. And now we see why those resources are very important. And it’s deeper than just a counselor.”

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