It Takes a Village: The Cleaning Lady Who Gave More in Scholarships than Jay-Z’s Foundation



Before you read the piece by respected educational advocate Dr. Tyra Seldon, note this:  Jay-Z’s Shawn Carter foundation has given roughly $1.1 million in scholarships since it was founded back in 2002.  That’s about $100,000 per year.  This woman gave $150,000 in scholarships and worked as a low-paid cleaning lady for over 50 years.  That’s what giving back is all about.


By Dr. Tyra Seldon

As debates about Jay-Z, Don Lemon and Black leadership intensify, I am reminded of the life story of Oseola McCarty. McCarty was a washerwoman in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. She quit school in the sixth grade to care for an ailing aunt, but she was wiser than most of the people who I know.

McCarty did not own a car; she had very few material luxuries and by most accounts, she lived frugally. For several decades, she saved her money.  She kept saving and saving.  In 1995, the world got a glimpse of just how remarkable she was. She gave the gift that keeps on giving: education.

With the money that she saved, she endowed over $150,000 in scholarships for African American students at the University of Southern Mississippi.  The scholarships, still in existence today, are awarded to students who otherwise would not be able to afford college. She immediately became a local and national star; yet through it all, she maintained her humility, dignity and grace.

McCarty used the little that she had to ensure that others could and would have more. Her legacy isn’t tied to the honorary doctorate that she received in 1996 from Harvard University or the Presidential Citizens Medal bestowed upon her by President Bill Clinton. Her legacy is intricately tied to the sacrifices that she made for others. Although she died in 1999, her story is still timely and relevant today.

As we go back and forth pontificating and taking our corners, let’s not forget who our real models and leaders are. They are in our communities, neighborhoods and families. Who needs someone else to tell us how to live, how to dress and how to think?

Oseola McCarty was an ordinary woman who used her gifts and graces to do something extraordinary.

A true role model, Osceola McCarty lived by doing. Indeed, her presence was a gift to us all.

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  2. This site is nothing more than a self hating house ***** version of the National Inquirer. The writers must come “from off the co-na”. Mrs.Oseola McCarty and Jay-Z should ask Your ***** World…WHAT HAVE YOU DONE besides sit back and post negative **** about Black people.

  3. Come on people wake up. Mentioning the ladys profession as a cleaning lady was nothing more than a tactic to throw shade at JayZ. The black community has been riding this man’s dyck since he became a “BUSINESS…MAN!” Still begging…no, DEMANDING he he (and his wife) “do something” or “give something” to us (black community). He doesnt “owe” us us a dayum thing and isnt obligated to “give back”..give back what exactly? Is he beholding to black folks because we bought his sheit? His cds clothing line tickets to his concerts danced to his sheit in the club and bumped his **** in your ride?? Real talk…WE CHOSE to buy his sheit. He had “products WE wanted. He gave us the product of our choice…and we PAID for it. An exchange of money for a good/service. THATS IT. End of business transaction. And yeah part of his wealth came from us I bought just about every cd he cut and attended his concerts but guess what the man owes me NOTHING. Much of his wealth came from business ventures that had nothing to do with hip hop. After saying all that its nice to give to organizations and reach out and help but please miss me with that “give back” sheit. We didnt “give” a dayum thing to JayZ we bought his sheit and paid for it. Business exchange. He gave what was “owed” to us…the good cds we bought, the fly azz clothing line, good concerts and good clubs go party at. Thats it so put your hands down stop begging go out and create your OWN wealth. Another thing YALL have been disrespecting not only the brotha by calling him UGLY but yall been disrespecting his wife for years and disrespecting his baby girl before she wa even born…ummm black women and gay azz nuccas with those photoshop pics od his baby before she was born (black women are qui k to call other black womens babies ugly yeah Im calling yall out) and yall still calling her names talking about shes ugly like her daddy…but yall have the nerve to expect him to “give something” to you and then demand he pull out of his Barneys deal too? Im glad he didnt pull out of it. By not pulling out of the deal he told yall in a nice way to kiss his azz. Cant say I blame him. You cant keep dissing wealthy black man AND his family and still expect him to “do something” for the very same people who dissed him. Anybody listen to the Holy Grail cd? He’s moved on from the hood, people. Oh well…

    • I’m not a child or simple minded so I would not buy anything Jayz is selling, or listen to that type of garbage music. However if he is able to convince million of sucker’s to buy it, more power to him. This is a free and country and can do what ever he wants to do with his money. If he is that bad boycott his products and anything he is associated don’t just bash the man.

  4. This is the mirror of love, God loving, caring and strong woman. We need more like her. I know she is in heaven watching us. And praying more will follow her footsteps. Great woman.

  5. I am glad to have read this story. As a man of color and first generation college student, it has taken me almost seven years to get a four year degree due to money. I have always said if I make some money I will create a scholarship for people that dont have the best opportunities to attend college. I don’t need all the materialistic stuff as long people in my city and project building are still not having the same advantages.

  6. Ms. McCarty’s life is an example that anyone can do something to make a difference in our community big or small. While there is a lot of debate and discussion about wealthy and famous black people contribute to our community, maybe we need to think about whom we pay attention to and whom we think is important and not be so quick to go along with who the media tells us is popular or important.

  7. Osceola McCarty lived by doing. What a perfect example and inspiration also. This defines the word LEGACY.

  8. I bet that not the only foundation that’s lagging in scholarships. I hope I’m wrong but I doubt it.

  9. Yeah, and she is still just a cleaning lady.

    • And your point is? She is far more honorable as a cleaning lady than a multi-millionaire rapper who does not give a schyt for his people.

      What have you done for your black people lately?

      • Regina, you seemed offended that someone pointed out that the article describes her as a ‘cleaning lady.’ I happen to agree with this man – it’s condescending and judgmental. If she were white or was a phD in something she’s be called a ‘humanitarian’ or ‘philanthropist’ but no, middle/upper class negroes look down on her employment history and labeled her by her previous job (she’s dead so they should have more respect) than what she actually did.

        We are all one or two generations from our grandmothers and sometimes mothers, being cleaning ladies. Stop being so damn elitist.

  10. Peter D. Slaughter

    I knew about this before.
    So overall not surprised.
    Overall these so-called mainstream sanitized,safe black media types are good at acting and pretending.
    So not surprised.
    This is like the latest dr.dre gave money to usc but not penny to a black college even though many of the kids at these black college either have on the headsets or have purchased his music .
    It’s show’s twisted and screwed up black unity has become over the years.

  11. I have never been a fan of Jayz, and have nothing but disdain for him, and his ilk. But, neither he, nor anyone else have to give you broke ass, begging people anything. We are the only people, on the face of this world that is constantly looking for others for a damn handout. Instead of looking to others for a handout, why don’t you begging ass people, seek better employment for yourselves, instead of the same old jobs as barbers, hair stylists, rappers, and basketball players? Where are all the black scientists, engineers, and other challenging, high skill, high paying members of our community? If more of us would strive to be more than low skill wage earners, or seek careers that the chances are one in a million to obtain, we wouldn’t be sitting around counting someone else’s money. Boyce, is always in someone else’s business, or pocket, but how much money does he give you broke ass people?
    There are millions of illegal immigrants in this country, and most damn near every one of them have jobs, and their children are going to school for high skill positions, while our people are standing on the corners begging for quarters, or on sites like this looking for others to give them some of their hard earned money. Get off your damn asses, and get your own, because nobody is going to give you a damn thing, and neither should they.

    • Moonhead, you need some serious education. You are down on blacks who are barbers, hair stylists, etc. Have you not read anything regarding self-employment?

      As for the comments regarding black scientists and engineers.

      IDIOT IT IS LIKE THIS. Carry your a$s to an engineering job fair and that is where your Black Engineers, Scientists and other highly trained blacks are.

      In the Oil and Gas industry, the first people to be laid off are engineers, geologist and geophysicts. The only people that are retained are Land Administration staff.

      I have seen more black electrical engineers at job fairs than whites here in Houston. So please talk about what you know and what you don’t know and that ain’t much on this topic at this moment.

      • At Regina, kudos for your reply. Often times it is the uninformed that make sweeping allegations. The discourse about Jay Z. Research indicate that other racial groups in America have banned together and supported each other financially. My only comment about Jay Z is, reciprocity.

      • I agree with you Regina, I wish Boyce would write an article on highly educated black who can’t find jobs in fields they study.

    • THANK YOU MOONHEAD!! Seriously that needed to be said, we do spend too much time begging wealthy black people for their money instead of putting in the work to create our own wealth. Jay dont owe me sheit.

  12. I have read this story several times before.
    She was an awesome lady.

  13. Miss Oseola McCarty is a true HERO..a true believer in the gift of giving far out weighs the gift of receiving…JAY Z AND BEYONCE will never be as blessed…this woman thought of all others before herself and anything Materialistic….


  15. Are we ready to rise? Then this is a good example.

  16. I feel like a lot of the presnt day rappers do not put out positive images to our youth, yet tey are making millions from selling negative and destructive music in the name of art. Whats wrong with them giving some back where they came from the BLACK COMMUNITIES

  17. This lady reminds me of the widow woman Jesus spoke of who gave all she had. The Lord observed that the rich folk made large donations, but he said this woman gave more even though her gift was only a fraction of what the wealthy gave (percentage philanthropy).

  18. Whats up with the Jay Z witch hunt on YBW lately???? I wonder how much the author of this article has given…

  19. I understand trying to make a comparison, but really what is the point? It’s divisive, what does Jay Z have to do with this at all? This is what I call the black condition putting this brother down as if charity isn’t left to one’s on preferences. it’s not Jay X’s responsibility to give away scholarship money. If he does fine but I just don’t get the point of this. It would seem as if several black talking heads want us to hate jay Z and the hip hop elite. I really don’t get it. Its the same hater mentality that’s plagues Cornell West and Travis Smiley. It’s lame and divisive.

    • I totally agree with you ! Willy Lynch did state if you keep the blacks divided you will control them for Five Hundred years. It sure seem to to be working.

      One Love!!

  20. Let me be clear, I can care less for most public figures, that include celebrities and politicians. As much as I admire Ms. McCarty, she should be the norm in our community and not the exception. When that happen then and only then should we expect more from our public figures. Remember they are only a reflection of society.

    • Your words are so refreshing and so full of wisdom. I would like to add that when we celebrate people for returning large sums of money and call them heroes or when just doing the right thing becomes such a big
      deal, then we as a society are really in trouble.

  21. Granted this was an interesting comparision, but you really have to wonder why someone who has made all of their money from black people both legally and illegally does not contribute to help those who he has exploited through music and drugs?

    • Wow….to say the least. Does Jay-Z really exploit people? You are a real lame-brain. The music {Rap Music} he makes is for entertainment purposes only. Some people with small brains may think they’re being exploited, if that’s how you feel don’t spend your money on the products he puts out..i love his music myself. Next question,is he obligated to give his money to you or me because he has millions and your ass is broke-as-a-Joke,HELL NO..

  22. Ms McCarty, you are an American hero. God bless you.

  23. Great dignity and class with genuine humility. An inspiration to all of humanity.

  24. There are still a few Black Americans whom care and really help their fellow Black American brothers and sisters. So-called Black Americans like Jay-Z and President Obama are not among those few.

    • Ah! Larry you had to find a way to besmirch the President. Do a little research, and you might be educated as to what the present President as done for his community. What have you done for the black community or for that matter the human race.

      One Love!!!!!

  25. Wow, shows you have to truly care! You don’t have to be a star!

  26. This dear lady has done something extraordinary and remarkable! Very few of us are able to think this way. It is a gift from God. Nevertheless we can all give in many different ways, such as: encouraging and empowering our young ones, teaching them how to survive in this difficult society, guiding them to maintain self respect.
    I read a lot about the atrocities that our black youth in particular suffer. Life is rough all over the world. It may be harder for this group, but let us not be mistaken. This is a human problem in all straters of life. When people are insecure, they do all they can to make you feel small. So let us not dwell on the ignorance of certain ethnic groups. We are a strong and powerful people, capable of great things if we put our minds to it. This America which we helped to build has a lot to offer. Let’s position ourselves and reach up, like Jeantel. No. There are not enough lawyers. Let’s learn about the system and direct it to our benefit.

  27. gloria cullins james

    how dare you compare what anyone give freely and for whatever reason,this site make me wonder tasteless and tacky who would do this

  28. What has Tyra Seldon done in giving back to the community by way of Scholarships and I might add leadership since it’s others like she,Harry Belefonte,and Boyce Watkins who are constantly talking about what Jay-Z hasn’t done if he want to give back he should do it from his heart and not because he is force or compelled by others to do so.I am so sick and tired of hearing people like Tyra Seldon a Woman I’ve never heard of obviously another croonie of Boyce Watkins harboring on what Jay-Z is not doing stop asking about what Jay Z can and can’t do and see what you can do Tyra Seldon this man is not in the business of leadership nor telling black folk how too live or dress or talk we should be striving too do this ourselves.There is no leadership in this Country period among blacks or another race if it was than things would not be as they are today period!!! everyone is in it for themselves and no one else and like my Mother always said if you want something done don’t sit back and wait for others too do it (DO IT YOURSELF)so stop singing this tired song What ever Jay-Z decides too do if he does anything than let him do without twisting his arm

  29. Jay-Z and people who are like him are nothing to the black community. Actually he is probably the most embarrassing Negro of the week for Black America.

  30. Some of the folk who criticize Jay-Z and other celebrities wouldn’t buy a homeless man a chicken box.

  31. I have not always agreed with Oprah on everything but on this subject I feel she is absolutely correct!
    Blacks can never ever own this word, nor should they want to. It was used to signify ownership of Blacks. It was used against us as the reason for denying us life, dignity prosperity and any form of happiness that could be taken from us and still is used for that purpose today. Blacks are the only people who pay money and make money from their own degradation. Jews certainly don’t! Italians, Irish, Chinese – none of these people call themselves the most vile word used against their race, for profit or for any other reason. We are the only ones who do this to ourselves. STOP. NOW!!!

    • I just dont get how anyone can even think of that word as a term of endearment as now cliamed by many

  32. Bless this woman and whatever family she had. Seems like some of the story was past tense so I guess she died. She was/is truly an angel.Wake up wealthy ppl!!

  33. thank you for sharing her story i didn’t know of this wonderful gift this gave from her HEART…

  34. Ms. McCarty was a beautiful, generous, loving and completely self-less lady. She was able to see beyond the immediate and made the decision to greatly impact the lives of others. She had to financial means to pay cash for a $150,000 home or otherwise live somewhat extravagantly in Mississippi. However, that simply wasn’t in her character. It never occurred to her to spend her OWN money herself. Yet we have 5 generations of able-bodied folk who think it’s beneath them do what they need to do LEGALLY

  35. See a little does become a lot when you do for others from the heart.

  36. indeed.
    but i guess you can only polish a turd so much.
    were all da skollaships to play bassetball ?

    • While I respect the right for free speech, when it comes to the utter disrespect and ignorance of such similar to the aforementioned, I am only saddened with the knowledge that there are just simply some people that do not need to pass on any genetic or mental traits.


      As a particularly regular reader, I would ask that you remove such instances of hate filled bigotry from such minority supportive websites unless you seek to diminish your viewership.

      Concerned Reader

      • @Christopher

        Don’t waste your time commenting on racist posts. Honestly, it doesn’t bother me one bit.

        I look at it this way:

        They enslaved us and forced us to do their work for them. If we tried to run away to freedom, they hunted us down and brought us back to do their work for them. Now, they hate our guts, and are OBSESSED with letting us know so. As human beings, there is something terribly wrong with them. They lost their “humanity.” You can NEVER reason with such persons.

    • @JigABooLotto……shame on you for making fun of something so genuine and wonderful. This woman could have been selfish and spent the money on her hair and nails. She wasn’t. She lived frugally so someone else would have a chance at a better life.

    • Once again, a KKKracker on the loose and he forgot to take his meds! GO STICK YOURSELF!!!