CHARLESTON, S.C. (courtesy postandcourier.com) — The Avery Research Center is growing its Race and Social Justice Initiative by distributing more scholarships this school year, and increasing the amount of the funding.
Last year, an anonymous donor made it possible for RSJI to expand its scholarship program and to name it in honor of Charleston native James E. Campbell, a longtime civil rights activist and educator. In 2019, three College of Charleston students and two students at historically black schools each received $600.
Now, the Avery Research Center is inviting students at the college and at any of South Carolina’s seven historically Black colleges and universities to apply for a $1,000 Student Leadership Award. As many as 10 will be granted, according to Daron Lee Calhoun, the Avery’s facilities, outreach and public programming coordinator.
“We wanted to raise the stakes,” he said.
The students who qualify for the awards will get more than money, Calhoun said. They will learn grant writing, interviewing techniques and administrative skills to better prepare them for the future.
In late June 2015 — after Walter Scott was shot and killed by a North Charleston police officer and after nine worshippers at Emanuel AME Church were killed by a white supremacist — Google awarded the College of Charleston a significant grant used to start the Race and Social Justice Initiative.
In 2017, the RSJI published its study “State of Racial Disparities in Charleston County, South Carolina 2000–2015,” and followed it up by establishing a new scholarship program.
Two $600 awards were given to College of Charleston students who promised to use the money on social justice activities.
In 2018, the Avery Center distributed six Student Leadership Awards to graduates and undergraduates focused on social justice.
Last year, Jasmine Dinkins of the College of Charleston used her award to study health issues facing Black mothers in gentrifying areas. Zandra McNair of Morris College used her money on an arts initiative for young people. Otiana Thompson of Claflin University applied her scholarship to studying the effects of homelessness on college students.
For two others, Kristin Graham and Marissa Haynes of the College of Charleston, the money made it possible for them to attend the American Association of Colleges and Universities 2020 Diversity, Equity and Student Success Conference.
Campbell, 95, whose papers are archived at the Avery Research Center, said he was glad the Student Leadership Awards could help young people engage in issues beyond the college campus.
“I think that’s very encouraging, given the political, economic, social and health crisis that we’re going through as a country,” he said. “All of our institutions are being tested now. To encourage young people to begin to be sober, serious and searching during their development is very necessary, because it gives them a sense of civic responsibility.”
Graduate and undergraduate students who attend the College of Charleston, Claflin University or S.C. State University in Orangeburg, Benedict College or Allen University in Columbia, Clinton College in Rock Hill, Voorhees College in Denmark, and Morris College in Sumter are eligible to apply for the James E. Campbell Student Leadership Award. They must submit a proposed project to firstname.lastname@example.org and fill out the online form at https://forms.gle/UrbVcwVXk25NS8wy9. The deadline in Nov. 20, 2020.