RCC receives $25,000 from Julian T. Pierce Endowment
The RCC Foundation received a $25,000 gift from the Julian T. Pierce Memorial Initiative today, bringing the all-time total to $160,000 in scholarship funds over the last ten years.
“We are truly grateful for the support from the Julian T. Pierce Memorial Initiative,” stated RCC President Melissa Singler. “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 was a lawyer and civil rights activist, fighting for equality for the Lumbee Tribe of which he was a member, and for all individuals. In 1988, he ran for Superior Court Judge, a new judgeship created by the North Carolina General Assembly for Robeson County. In March 1988, just a few weeks before the election, Pierce was tragically killed in his home. Ironically, Pierce won the election that year, posthumously by more than 2000 votes.
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.
“This is the happy part of it, where the work pays off, where you’re able to present these checks to three institutions that Julian was involved in,” stated Harvey Godwin, the former Lumbee Tribal Chairman and owner of Two Hawk Employment Service.
Godwin served as the campaign manager for Pierce during his run for Superior Court Judge. He started the memorial dinner fundraiser as a way to honor the man whom many attest had made such a difference in his community.
“I’m very thankful to the people who contributed to this,” Godwin stated. “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,” Godwin said. “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 believes that raising scholarships for students is something that would have made Julian would have liked to have seen.
“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.”
“I think he would be humbled,” said Godwin. “He was a very humbled man, whose life was cut off too soon… I hope he would be saying ‘Job well done.’”
“Julian would be proud to know the difference he has made and how his life has helped change the trajectory of so many lives over the years,” stated Lisa Hunt, the director of grants and sponsored programs at RCC. “It is wonderful to see the growing support from the community for this initiative and we are so thankful for everyone who has helped to make this possible.”
As Hunt stated, the memorial dinner does indeed continue to grow each year, something that continues to make Godwin and others excited about the future of the Julian T. Pierce Initiative.
“We are close to the $100,000 event,” Godwin said. “In the future, I believe this is going to expand to the point that we’re able to support programs for our communities… indigenous people, poverty, food insecurities and have a bigger impact… we’re going to be able to move into those areas in the future.”
Pierce was instrumental in integrating the Robeson County schools into one school system to provide quality education for all. He also founded the Lumbee River Legal Services and the Robeson County Health Care Corporation, two organizations that still exist to this day and are in operation to help those in need. Many might say his vision was well ahead of his time, but Pierce has left a lasting mark on Robeson County, the region, and North Carolina as a whole.
“Julian probably never realized the impact he made,” stated Singler. “But through this endowment, his legacy will continue to live on and his life will continue to make an impact for generations to come… we are so thankful for this donation, and we are so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of Julian’s legacy.”