Dr. Theresa Price founded the Black College Expo to open doors and create opportunities for underserved, underrepresented students. Each year lives are changed when students get accepted to college with scholarships on the spot. As part of the "CBS This Morning" series, A More Perfect Union, Jamie Yuccas reports.
JAMIE YUCCAS: Routines get students excited about school, but each step at the Black College Expo is toward a brighter future, with students getting scholarships on the spot. Lorin Crawford recalls how the expo changed his life.
LORIN CRAWFORD: I remember growing up and thinking that if I wanted to make a million dollars, I had to be an athlete or a musician. What Black College Expo showed me is that, no, you can be an engineer.
JAMIE YUCCAS: From valedictorian to PhD, Crawford is now a senior researcher at Microsoft and a professor at Brown, because the Expo opened doors.
DR. THERESA PRICE: I am amazing!
JAMIE YUCCAS: Theresa Price is the pioneering powerhouse who first launched the Expo two decades ago. She's helped more than a half million people get into college.
DR. THERESA PRICE: I just love seeing their eyes brighten up when they know they can do it. That's my warm and fuzzy, my vice, my everything.
JAMIE YUCCAS: This is Price's second act, after a successful career in radio and marketing.
DR. THERESA PRICE: I thought I was going to be a big record producer. I was doing deals with Clive Davis. God said, nope, that's not what you're here for. But I love it.
[CROWD CHANTING] When do we want it? Now!
JAMIE YUCCAS: Her mission changed in 1996. That's when voters passed Prop 209, banning affirmative action at California's public universities.
DR. THERESA PRICE: I want to change the world. I don't like what I see. So instead of talking about it, what am I going to do about it. We'll figure it out. We'll figure it out!
JAMIE YUCCAS: Fired up, Price harnessed her professional connections to create the first Black College Expo in Los Angeles. Thirty-five thousand people showed up.
DR. THERESA PRICE: They were waiting in line, and guess what happened? They sent out the riot gear police.
JAMIE YUCCAS: There were so many people of color?
DR. THERESA PRICE: I think it was too many-- so many Black people, standing in line two and a half hours. And they thought it was going to be a riot. And we were like, what the heck. And everybody was just in line for education. One thousand dollar scholarship. Whoo!
JAMIE YUCCAS: Due to the pandemic, the Expos are virtual. But the needs are greater than ever. I heard you take phone calls in the middle of the night, in the early morning. You'll do anything for these kids.
DR. THERESA PRICE: I'll do anything. I know it's bad. It's bad. It's good, though. But it's bad. I just want them to know that there are great things out there waiting for them, and they can do anything.
JAMIE YUCCAS: About 85% of the students come from single-parent or foster homes. And some, like 20-year-old Devin Williams, are homeless.
DEVIN WILLIAMS: There's points in time when I was sleeping in cars, sleeping at parks.
JAMIE YUCCAS: Raised in a violent home, Williams was 12 when he found his mother dead from alcohol poisoning.
DEVIN WILLIAMS: At first, I was in a dark place. I'm not going to lie. The first couple, like two years, I was in a really dark place.
JAMIE YUCCAS: He met Price at a Black College Expo, and she helped him find his way.
DEVIN WILLIAMS: As far as my guardian angel for real, like whenever I'm having a tough time, and I know I have nowhere else to go, and I'm just like, you know, she's always had my back.
JAMIE YUCCAS: COVID has created desperate situations. Price answers every call for food, money, even laptops, so students can continue learning and thriving.
DR. THERESA PRICE: I cry a lot, but they're tears of joy, too. Because a lot of them see that they can do. I feel like that text, that call, it's only a minute. I mean to say, hey, I believe in you. And if we all did that, we'll have a better world.
JAMIE YUCCAS: And while the classroom shows students the light, Price shows them the love, where they can then create their own wonderful world. For CBS This Morning, Jamie Yuccas, Los Angeles.
GAYLE KING: Theresa Price. Like everything about her.
GAYLE KING: Helping kids is just her happy place. And it's infectious watching her help other people.
TONY DOKOUPIL: Five hundred thousand kids to college because of her helping hand.
ANTHONY MASON: Yeah.
GAYLE KING: Jamie Yuccas introduces us to the nicest people.
ANTHONY MASON: Yeah. We love her. You're watching CBS This Morning. We'll be right back.