LUMBERTON, N.C. (WBTW) — The Robeson Community College Foundation on Monday received a $25,000 gift from the Julian T. Pierce Memorial Initiative to help with student scholarships, the school said.
The gift brings the Pierce Initiative’s all-time scholarship endowment to $160,000 over the last 10 years.
“We are truly grateful for the support from the Julian T. Pierce Memorial Initiative,” school President Melissa Singler said in a news release. “This money received will continue to honor the legacy of this remarkable man, to “keep the vision” in supporting education and equality for all people.”
Pierce, a lawyer and civil-rights activist, was known for fighting for equality for the Lumbee Tribe of which he was a member. He was killed at his home in March 1988 but then elected posthumously to a new Superior Court judgeship that had been created by the North Carolina General Assembly.
Pierce won the election by more than 2,000 votes and would have been the state’s first Native American Superior Court judge.
The money was raised during the 10th Annual Julian T. Pierce Memorial Art Dinner held earlier this year. The event raised more than $94,000. The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, where Pierce received his bachelor’s degree, and the institution where he studied law, North Carolina Central University, also both received a donation of $25,000.
Harvey Godwin, a former Lumbee tribal chairman, served as the campaign manager for Pierce during his run for Superior Court Judge and started the memorial dinner fundraiser.
“I’m very thankful to the people who contributed to this,” Godwin said. “All the people who bought art or bought a sponsorship or even purchased a ticket, they are the ones who are making a difference.
“We do it for the students and the people that it impacts, we hope we’re helping the next generation. Take a look at Julian’s characteristics and the things he believed in to help provide humanitarian aid, to help push those generations along.”
Godwin said Pierce would have been humbled by the money raised for scholarships.
“I think it’s what Julian would want us to do,” Godwin said. “Everyone that is involved in the JTP committee is fully engaged in that, trying to make a difference in our community, and that’s what makes it all worthwhile.”
Pierce was also instrumental in integrating the Robeson County schools into one school system to provide quality education for all, the college said. He also founded the Lumbee River Legal Services and the Robeson County Health Care Corporation, two organizations that still serve those in need.