The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) embodies many of the same principles that its storied namesake exuded. Through preparing aspiring youths and helping them gain access to college, the Fund has become a staple across the nation in several Black communities.

On April 7, the Fund and the Baltimore Host Committee will present the city’s third annual Awards of Excellence reception at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore.

This year’s winners will include Brian G. Kim, associate judge of the District Court of Maryland for Montgomery County; Ava E. Lias-Booker, a partner at McGuireWoods; Ackneil Muldrow II , CEO of Parker Muldrow & Associates and Dr. Levi Watkins, professor of surgery and associate dean at the School of Medicine at Johns Hopkins Heart & Vascular Institute among others.

Award winners are chosen based upon the TMCF’s belief that they have exemplified Justice Thurgood Marshall’s commitment to justice, education and civil rights or exceeded excellence in their chosen fields.

Adding to what should already be an extraordinary night will be keynote speaker and Marshall’s son, John Marshall. While continuing to fulfill the legacy of his famed father, Marshall recognizes that the reception not only benefits award recipients but that their work continues to extend the branches of the TMCF’s core beliefs.

“There are individuals who do a lot of work that’s not noticed and not getting recognition in a particular work that is right in line with what my father fought for so much throughout his career,” Marshall said. “In particular civil rights, justice and education – that’s kind of the foundation of the award. The award usually touches in some way in one of those three areas or all three.”

“The people who are selected for this award, we see them in many ways as role models certainly in their respected fields but also for what they stand for and what they’ve achieved,” Marshall added. “They help to show the importance of the fund through their work and their support of it and how it makes it a difference.”

For the last 23 years, the TMCF has been making an astonishing difference in several lives. Established with Marshall’s permission in 1987 by Dr. Joyce Payne, the fund was set up to assist the 47 historically Black college universities (HBCUs) and their students. Since its exception, the TMCF has awarded more than $100 million in scholarships and has enabled more than 18,000 students to attend HBCUs.

With a vast number of collegiate success stories under its belt, the TMCF continues to serve as the only national organization that provides scholarships and multiple forms of assistance to the 47 HBCUs and six historically Black law schools throughout the nation and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The main focal point has always been geared towards students, an area of focus the TMCF continues to pinpoint on.

“That’s what the fund ultimately is all about,” Marshall said. “It’s about, what we refer to it as the best of the best and the fund helps to prepare the best of the best to be our leaders of tomorrow. The fund does so much in the areas of capacity building, leadership and STEM programs but ultimately what it comes down to is our students. They’re what the fund is all about, their success and what they’re able to achieve and go on and do.”


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO