UF Law Announces Full-Tuition Scholarships for HBCU Graduates

UF Law Announces Full-Tuition Scholarships for HBCU Graduates

Four alumni honor civil rights icon John Lewis’ legacy by creating path for people of color
By Whitney Smith

The University of Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law announces a new scholarship program for graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) seeking to enter the legal profession. The program will award full-tuition scholarships to at least five HBCU graduates enrolling at UF Law every year.

UF Law launches this endowed scholarship with lead gifts totaling more than $1.1 million, including an initial gift from Yolanda Cash Jackson (JD 90) and a $1 million gift from longtime UF Law supporter Hugh Culverhouse (JD 74). Culverhouse was moved to make this transformational gift after the recent passing of civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis.

“It is the legacy and lofty standard set by the late John Robert Lewis that has fueled this scholarship’s creation and will ensure its long-term success,” Jackson stated.

Jackson initially conceived of the scholarship program as a vehicle for Black UF Law alumni to support greater diversity in the legal profession. Paul Perkins (JD 91) and Greg Francis (JD 94) joined Jackson in making early gifts that permitted the program to be endowed into perpetuity. Francis’ contribution is the largest cash gift ever received from a Black UF Law alum.

Successful 30-year lobbyist Yolanda Cash Jackson (BSJ ’80, JD ’90) recently inspired UF law alumni to launch a scholarship drive. She hopes the effort will add more diversity to the legal profession.

“The Black alumni of UF Law now have a lasting pipeline between the law school and the 106 HBCUs in the United States to ensure that the legal profession reflects the rich diversity of our nation,” said Jackson.

Inspired by the late Congressman Lewis, Culverhouse then offered his $1 million gift so that the program could immediately offer multiple scholarships for HBCU graduates seeking to matriculate at UF Law in August, 2021. Scholarship recipients will be recognized as John Lewis Scholars and will enjoy exclusive engagement opportunities with UF Law’s Black alumni network throughout the nation.

“Congressman Lewis used every day of his life to help this nation live up to the ideals of equality and justice for all. He knew that we could not be complacent, that racial justice demands continual dialogue and struggle. This scholarship fund will provide graduates of HBCUs with the tools necessary to unlock the full potential of our great Constitution,” said Culverhouse.

Lewis’ commitment to fighting racial injustice began with organizing lunch counter sit-ins and participating in the original Freedom Rides. His education at Fisk University, an HBCU, and his leadership role in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) ignited a lifetime of activism and service. After more than 30 years as a member of the United States House of Representatives, Lewis was hailed by his peers as the “conscience of the Congress”.

“This scholarship provides a perpetual path for other graduates of HBCUs to continue Lewis’s legacy of ‘Good Trouble,’” said Laura A. Rosenbury, Dean and Levin, Mabie & Levin Professor of Law at UF Law. “The role of trained attorneys in protecting and improving the rule of law has never been more important as our nation grapples with the impacts of systemic racism, a contentious political landscape, and unparalleled uncertainty and loss of life due to a worldwide pandemic.”

Both Jackson and Culverhouse intend for their gifts to motivate additional contributions from UF Law alumni, friends of the law school, law firms, bar associations, corporate entities, and charitable foundations seeking to honor both John Lewis and the strong tradition of the nation’s HBCUs. The law school will begin a year-long campaign to match the Culverhouse gift and grow the fund to at least $2 million before 2022.

“I join Yolanda, Hugh, and others in calling on all of our alumni and friends to help us grow this important scholarship fund during the upcoming year,” said Rosenbury. “UF Law is committed to providing students with the tools necessary to improve the rule of law and fight for racial justice. This fund, which is already the largest endowed scholarship fund in the law school’s history, will ensure that our commitment to access and diversity remains in perpetuity.”

Prospective students seeking information about scholarship opportunities should contact the UF Law Admissions Office at 352-273-0890 or by emailing admissions@law.edu.

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