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By Tarice L.S. Gray

The Rhodes Scholarship is one of the most prestigious and oldest international fellowship programs for graduates and prolific intellectuals in the world. Created in 1902 and named after South African mining magnate Cecil John Rhodes, the program brings together more than 80 scholars each year from South Africa, Australia, Canada, Botswana, India, Kenya, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Germany, Jamaica, and the United States, from which 32 scholars are chosen. Scholars are awarded scholarships worth $50,000 each for two years of study at Oxford University.

Alain Locke was the first African-American to win a Rhodes Scholarship in 1907, igniting a legacy of excellence that African-American students would proudly carry on over the next century.  In fact, over the past four decades, Black Americans have won a Rhodes Scholarship almost each year. That’s a very sweet statistic in light of the fact that Rhodes was known to be a “brutal racist.” Here, we honor the bigot, with a list of our nations most gifted Black writers, educators, future doctors and change-makers that have utilized his scholarship to raise the bar of African-American success:

John Edgar Wideman

Wideman was the second African-American in history to be named a Rhodes Scholar in 1963. Since graduating from Oxford University in 1966, he has written 20 books, including Philadelphia Fire and Brothers and Keepers, and earned the MacAurther Genius Grant. Currently, Wideman is Asa Messer Professor and Professor of Africana Studies and English at Brown University.

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