By Charles Petty
While the national conscience has focused heavily over the past year on America’s long-standing problem of anti-Black racism, it’s a struggle that’s been ongoing for the past four centuries. Even with all of the strides of progress that have been made since the era of the Civil Rights period, it appears that there are still roadblocks for some people of color to find access to affordable education.
Now, Central Carolina Community College and the mother of a Black man who was killed in July are working to help these communities meet their full potential without obstacles. The creation of the Jason Arnold Black Lives Matter scholarship is aimed at helping to advance the cause of civil rights in the Lee County community.
Dr. Emily Hare, the executive director of the Central Carolina Community College Foundation said she’s hopeful the scholarship can reach and better serve the Black community in Lee County.
“The way we can make a difference and change this world for the better is by educating people,” she said.
Arnold, whose name is on the scholarship, was a black male who had attended CCCC in the last few years. He was killed by a gunman who was known to him on July 5. His mother has teamed up with Haire and the Foundation to raise $10,000 for an endowment, and now the first scholarship has been awarded to Julius Ferguson.
“I would like it to be an annual scholarship given every year in order to continue helping Black men in the community,” said Sharon Johnson, Jason’s mother, adding that she hopes the scholarship can be a catalyst for change and that deserving young Black men can use it to pursue an education.
Allowing for all people and those who otherwise could not afford higher education is what motivated Hare to get involved with the scholarship. The foundation has been at the heart of the college for over 30 years and works to better aid those people who are in need of financial assistance.
Margaret Murchison, a member of the CCCC Foundation’s board of directors, said she’s elated that a scholarship addressing Black lives and education is being created. Her hope is that it will encourage other Black men and people of color to pursue their dreams and goals in higher education.
“The first BLM scholarship initiated in Lee County should serve as a catalyst for many other scholarships in our community, and beyond. It’s a great use of our hard earned dollars,” she said. “This scholarship, named for the late Jason Arnold, may offer some other young man the promise of a great future and then he can, reach back and pull another young man up, and so on, and so on, and all will see that Black Lives truly matter.”
Anyone is able to donate to the scholarship or any other endowment in the foundation. Visit www.cccc.edu/foundation/giving for more information.