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Louisiana Tech creates scholarship to honor first African-American students

Louisiana Tech University and its Office of Multicultural Affairs have created a scholarship to honor the legacy of James Earl Potts and Bertha Bradford-Robinson, who were the first male and female African-American students to attend Louisiana Tech.

The scholarship will support educational opportunities for minority students attending Louisiana Tech and will contribute to enriching the cultural and diversity experiences of the university’s campus community.  Through its TECH 2020 strategic plan, Louisiana Tech is committed to an unparalleled educational experience that is created through a diverse student community and multi-cultural learning programs and opportunities.

Louisiana Tech President Les Guice (third from right) with Bertha Bradford-Robinson (second from right) and family.

Louisiana Tech President Les Guice (third from right) with Bertha Bradford-Robinson (second from right) and family.

“I am deeply honored and grateful to have a scholarship in my name at my undergraduate alma mater, Louisiana Tech University,” said Bradford-Robinson.  “The struggle was real, but it was also necessary.  To know that my classmate and I affected change so that African-American students could matriculate at this esteemed university is confirmation that our efforts were not in vain.”

“I am truly grateful that a scholarship will be created in James Earl Potts and Bertha Lee Bradford Robinson Honor,” said Shirley Potts Hicks, sister of James Earl Potts.  “It was a long time coming, but I am glad it came in my life time.  This is another history making event.”

Transferring from Grambling College (now Grambling State University), Potts was admitted to Louisiana Tech in the spring of 1965, followed by Bradford-Robinson a few months later.  Potts, a native of Quitman, Louisiana, and Bradford-Robinson, a native of Jonesboro, Louisiana, helped blaze a path forward for 28 new African-American students who would enroll at Louisiana Tech in the fall of 1965.

Following Potts and Bradford-Robinson’s enrollment, the African-American student population would continue to grow each year at Louisiana Tech, and by 1968, African-American students were represented in every department on the campus.  Bradford-Robinson would eventually earn her degree in early childhood education from Louisiana Tech in 1976.

“James Earl Potts and Bertha Bradford-Robinson serve as an inspiration and a clear example of the impacts that people of vision and integrity can have on our history,” said Louisiana Tech President Les Guice.  “Mr. Potts and Mrs. Bradford-Robinson truly exemplify the Tenets of Tech, and the strength of character that all of our students and alumni should aspire to emulate.  They are an important part of the Tech Family and our institution’s history, and I am excited by the opportunities this scholarship will provide for future generations of students.”

Louisiana Tech’s Office of Multicultural Affairs seeks to foster learning and working environments on campus where students of color are empowered through educational, social, and leadership initiatives at Louisiana Tech University.  The office supports the university’s mission to recruit and retain a diverse undergraduate and graduate student body by participating in strategic recruiting efforts and programing that meets the needs of faculty and students.

Alumni and friends of Louisiana Tech can help to support the James Earl Potts and Bertha Bradford-Robinson Scholarship Fund by contacting Jimmy Washington at (318) 257-2067 or jwashington@latech.edu.  Information on sending financial contributions can be found at http://www.latech.edu/students/multicultural-affairs.

For information on the Office of Multicultural Affairs and its initiatives, programming and/or services, contact Devonia Love-Vaughn at dlvaughn@latech.edu or (318) 257-2077.