They filed into the gym Monday (Jan. 12) for an assembly about graduation and applying for colleges — an intentionally vague description that wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for a senior class.
Instead, the seniors at Normandy High School learned that full-tuition scholarships would be given to 11 of them in honor of Michael Brown, who graduated just days before he was fatally shot by a Ferguson police officer.
Ferguson’s death — and the subsequent grand jury decision not to charge the white officer with his death — set off protests and heightened racial tensions coast to coast, followed by a similar case of a unarmed black man on Staten Island who died in a police chokehold.
“The way we deal with this situation is we breathe life into you,” said George T. French, president of Miles College in Birmingham, Ala., which is offering two of the scholarships. “We believe in you, Normandy High School seniors.”
More than a dozen local and national church leaders sat in folding chairs on the gym floor, inside a high-poverty school south of Ferguson where opportunity runs short and paying for college doesn’t come easily for most.
The scholarships would cover four years’ tuition at colleges and universities operated by each of the three African-American Methodist denominations: African Methodist Episcopal, African Methodist Episcopal Zion and Christian Methodist Episcopal. And the scholarships would target not necessarily the top students, but those who want to go to college and wouldn’t otherwise have the chance.
Source: Religion News Service | Elisa Crouch / St. Louis Post-Dispatch