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Appreciation: My Friend Earl Hayes

Appreciation: My Friend Earl Hayes
By William “Bud” Blakey

My friend Earl Hayes — a tireless advocate for the nation’s historically Black colleges and universities, an avid boater and a good friend to many — left us in late August following a brief battle with throat and neck cancer. Those who knew Earl loved his dry sense of humor, warm friendship and ever-ready smile, as well as his deep commitment to expanding educational opportunities for African-American youth and enhancing HBCUs.

For nearly two decades, Earl labored at the U.S. Department of Education, where he served as deputy director and special assistant with the White House Initiative on HBCUs. Earl’s personality was
well-suited to the job, and his preference was to work behind the scenes. He helped generate millions of dollars in federal grant awards and corporate gifts for the HBCUs.

Earl’s love for HBCUs was natural and developed as a result of personal experience. The Baltimore native enrolled and ran track at Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Ky., but later graduated from Morgan State (College) University, following a tour of duty in the United States Air Force during the Korean War. Earl helped prepare Black youth for the educational and life challenges in their futures as a Baltimore public school geography and history teacher. He later earned his master’s degree from Penn State University.

An avid boater, Earl loved the special friendship and camaraderie he shared with the Seafarers Yacht Club members even more than he loved boating. For Earl, personal relationships and friendships were the most important things in life. 

— Blakey is an attorney in Washington, D.C. and consults with the White House Initiative on HBCUs.

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