GM Celebrates the Importance of HBCU’s at the Annual Bayou Classic in NOLA

(Southern University Band GM Logo formation at the Bayou Classic Football Game. Photo credit: General Motors)


Historical Black Colleges and Universities have been at the foundation for the path of success for many well-known and not-so-well-known black professionals, artists, musicians, politicians, business owners, etc. Notably Thurgood Marshall, Spike Lee, and VPOTUS Kamala Harris, to name a few. The opportunities afforded at these educational institutes give black students a place to learn, excel, and thrive in confidence, acceptance, and pride in their blackness, in their brilliance, in their culture — and there is nothing more of a cultural celebration of black excellence, sportsmanship, and creativity than the annual Bayou Classic that takes place in NOLA (New Orleans, LA). The Classic is a match-up of Grambling State vs. Southern University hosts a weekend of parties, Battle of the Bands, and the Greek Step Show leading up to the big football game on Sunday.


General Motors DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) team recognizes the importance of supporting athletic programs at these colleges and universities, which typically do not get the same national support as other universities.


“We champion diversity and inclusion on all fronts. Our commitment to Historically Black Colleges and Universities is paramount to strengthening our diverse talent pipeline and propelling the visibility of student athletes, alumni and each of the universities represented,” said Tarshena Armstrong, Director of Diversity Marketing & Development for General Motors.


During the multi-generational event that brings together nearly 70K students, alum, and faculty, GM’s DEI team hosted several black media outlets to reinforce and amplify the message of making sure that diversity throughout the company’s workforce and customer base is one of the core pillars to the company’s overall mission and direction.

General Motors DEI Media/Marketing Team with several black publication journalist. Photo credit: General Motors

During the media brunch, GM’s DEI team advised in several points of GM’s commitment to the black community and its partnerships, stating GM believes in investing in and supporting the Black experience. The team advised, it is vital to GM to engage the future leaders of the Black community and that this event is a unique opportunity for GM to expand its reach and engage a new audience within the Black cultural space.


“The Bayou Classic is a new space for us, and we want to continue to reinforce our commitment and empowerment of the Black community at-large.” Said Armstrong.


Furthering that commitment in October GM was announced as the Presenting Automotive Sponsor for the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) in addition to its current ongoing community programs (5th year of the Discover the Unexpected Fellowship Program with Chevrolet and The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and the Driving Force internship with Clark Atlanta).


The three-year deal spans the entire conference footprint, with GM supporting multiple touchpoints from championship events and scholarships to Esports gaming labs and workforce readiness and recruitment initiatives.


“Words can’t adequately express my excitement to welcome General Motors as the official automotive sponsor of the Southwestern Athletic Conference,” said SWAC Commissioner Dr. Charles McClelland.


“For over a century the General Motors brand has been synonymous with a high level of quality, innovation, and customer service. GM has shown a steadfast commitment towards diversity, minority educational advancement along with vocational training and development. This partnership will undoubtedly make a significant impact towards assisting us in providing the tools and resources necessary to further amplify the overall missions and objectives of our 12 member institutions.”


GM will also hold the presenting naming rights to the SWAC Football Classic featuring Alcorn State University Braves vs. Jackson State University Tigers.


According to the DEI team, GM has been clear with recruiters and hiring managers that their workforce must reflect the kind of high-quality, diverse talent that they know will power GM’s future.


Deborah Wahl, General Motors Global Chief Marketing Officer, said, “As we aspire to be the most inclusive company in the world, GM’s success will depend on nurturing diverse talent, especially in STEM fields. Our collaboration with SWAC creates valuable connections with thriving HBCUs and their communities, and I’m proud that GM is fostering opportunities for these incredible student athletes to excel, both today and as they embark on their future careers.”





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