Georgia College Offers Scholarship to Amend Discrimination
In 1955 and 1956, every senior at an all-Black high school in Carrollton applied to West Georgia College. All were rejected because of the color of their skin.
Forty-five years later, the college has apologized, and an anonymous donor has created a scholarship fund for the descendants of those 60 or 70 students who were turned down.
The George Washington Carver High School Descendants Scholarship is a $5,000 award that will be presented annually, starting in the fall of 2002. Any descendant with a 3.0 high school grade-point average may apply.
“It’s good that someone has taken a partial role in undoing some of the things that were done,” says Grady Gamble, a Carver High graduate and a retired Atlanta police captain. “It might not satisfy everyone, but it is a step in the right direction.”
Jeff Long, who was a teacher at Carver in the 1950s, encouraged all members of the senior classes to apply to West Georgia, a segregated state college in Carrollton. It was a protest against segregation, but Long says he also had another motive.
“I wanted to get as many students into college and professional life as possible,” he says.
Last year, Dr. Beheruz N. Sethna, the president of the school now known as the State University of West Georgia, organized a reception for the alumni of the 1955 and 1956 senior classes to express regret for what happened. The reunion allowed former classmates to meet again and also inspired an anonymous donor to create the scholarship fund.
“The catalyst for this scholarship really was the reunion,” says Scott Huffman, associate vice president for development and alumni services. “That’s when a benefactor saw the good relationship that Dr. Sethna and this group had established and really wanted to do this as a way to make amends, as well as to show that West Georgia really is now very much open.”
With the exception of Georgia’s historically Black colleges, West Georgia has one of the highest Black enrollments in the state. About 20 percent of the student body is Black, Sethna says.
To let people know about the scholarship, a foundation at West Georgia is sending a letter to every ’55 and ’56 Carver graduate.
“We’ll do everything we can to make sure that the Carver graduates’ descendants know about the scholarship and have the opportunity to take advantage of it,” Huffman says.
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com