Several universities are creating scholarships and memorial funds in George Floyd’s memory after he died in Minneapolis police custody on May 25.
North Central University in Minneapolis was the first to implement a George Floyd scholarship, whose president, Scott Hagan, urged “every university president in the United States to establish your own George Floyd Memorial Scholarship Fund.” Since then, the list of participating colleges has burgeoned to include Pennsylvania State University, the University of Minnesota, the University of Memphis, Ohio University, the University of Utah.
Recipients of the scholarships will come from mostly minority backgrounds. The scholarships will also benefit those who plan to major in social justice-related majors, according to Campus Reform.
The University of Minnesota Floyd scholarship describes itself as an opportunity for “underrepresented” students:
This fund honors George Perry Floyd Jr. and was established to support undergraduate students whose identities are underrepresented at the University of Minnesota, or undergraduate students whose studies focus on racial and social justice. Eligible undergraduate students from all campuses in the University of Minnesota system are encouraged to apply. George Floyd, a black man, was killed while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. During Mr. Floyd’s memorial service, universities were called upon to create a scholarship in his honor that will support efforts to create a more just and equitable world.
Alabama State University President Quinton Ross followed Hagan’s example and introduced a fund named after Floyd and Greg Gunn, a black man who died recently in a shoot-out involving police.
“I decided to include Greg Gunn in the naming of our scholarship,” Ross said. “He was a man who was chased by a Montgomery police officer through a local neighborhood and killed just steps away from his mother’s front door. Gunn at one time attended classes at Alabama State University. This scholarship also is representative of Floyd, Gunn and any black man or black woman who have died in similar situations.”
Penn State University has also followed suit, and promised to match up to $10 million in diversity scholarship donations, in addition to dedicating a $50,000 endowment to the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship in Educational Equity.
According to a statement from the school:
To be known as the Educational Equity Matching Program, the initiative was inspired in part by a challenge issued at Floyd’s June 4 memorial service in Minneapolis by North Central University President Scott Hagan, who asked other institutions around the nation to join his own in creating scholarships in Floyd’s name. Penn State is the largest university to date that has responded to that challenge, endowing the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship in Educational Equity with a $50,000 commitment. The University has also committed an additional $50,000 to the Osaze Olufemi Osagie Memorial Scholarship for Educational Equity, created last year to honor a former Penn State student who died in a March 2019 officer-involved shooting when State College police responded to a mental health warrant.
George Floyd has become a symbolic figure following his death on May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes. Since then, Floyd’s death has become a rallying cry for those protesting police brutality and systemic racism in demonstrations that have often degenerated into violent riots throughout the country.
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