Pastor Jamal Bryant, President of the Empowerment Movement, has partnered with the parents of Michael Brown, Jr. and bishops from three historic African American Methodist denominations: African Methodist Episcopal (AME), Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME), and African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AME Zion), to create full-tuition scholarship opportunities for 11 deserving students at Normandy High School in honor of the late Michael Brown.
Serving as the same high school that Brown graduated from eight days before his death, Normandy High School is located just south of Ferguson, Missouri, and is home to many high poverty youth. The Normandy school district is amongst the poorest and most segregated in Missouri, with only half of its male students graduating high school and only 22.3 percent of its students continuing their education at a four-year college.
In an effort to help change the trajectory of this year’s graduating class, members from the religious community are stepping in to ensure that the students are met with the opportunities needed to further their education.
“The way we deal with this situation is we breathe life into you,” said Miles College President George T. French during an assembly at the school on January 12th where the scholarship announcement was made. “We believe in you Normandy High School seniors.”
Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama is one of several HBCUs offering scholarships to the students, with other participating schools including Fort Valley State University in Georgia, Lane College in Tennessee, Texas College in Texas, Edward Waters College in Florida, and Oakwood College in Alabama.
Bryant, who has participated in some of the protests in Ferguson, came up with the idea last month in North Carolina with a few other religious leaders. During the meeting, the leaders talked about the civil rights movement of the 1960s and how the religious community hadn’t played a major role in the movement that was taking place in Ferguson.
“This is a young people’s movement,” said Bryant. “We figured the best way to help support that was to educate them.”
The 11 scholarships will be awarded through the Michael Brown Chosen for Change foundation that was started by Brown’s family and they will be given to any students who wish to further their education beyond high school.