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Knox College Names First Elizabeth Eckford Scholarship for Peace and Justice Studies Recipient

A new scholarship has been established at Knox College in honor of the 65th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine: the Elizabeth Eckford Scholarship for Peace and Justice Studies

Tamia Ware ’26 was named the first recipient of the scholarship. Ware says she was surprised by the announcement and is very appreciative of the support. The scholarship’s funding is made possible by the Charles A. Becker Foundation. Selected students will receive $2,500 per year, with a 4-year total commitment of $10,000. The foundation is making a 10-year commitment overall to the scholarship.

The scholarship aims to provide annual scholarship support for deserving Knox women students who have demonstrated significant financial need to meet the expenses of their education and maintain Knox academic standards.

“This scholarship will help me do what I really want to do at Knox instead of having to worry about what I would have to do to pay off loans,” Ware said. “I’m looking forward to what will come next for me academically.”

Charles A. Becker Foundation President Eric Pleschner met Eckford through the foundation’s work with Sojourn to the Past, a California-based nonprofit that provides high school students with study trips, learning the history of the Civil Rights Movement. Eckford holds a prominent role in the program and says it’s very important to her as an outlet to open up about her time in high school during the Little Rock Nine era. 

Eckford, who attended Knox for one year, became globally recognized for her integration into Arkansas’ Little Rock High School in 1957. Eckford, then 15 years old, became the subject of what Life magazine called, "One of the 100 Most Important Photos Ever.” The photo of her caught the world’s attention, and her role in it, as a result, became iconic. Her personal story has become one of an individual who overcame adversity to become a beacon of hope and equality.

After meeting in San Francisco and hearing her story, Pleschner says he felt compelled to do something for Eckford through the foundation. The idea of a scholarship in her name was conceived. From the start, Eckford wanted the aid to be provided to Knox College students specifically. 

“She wanted it to benefit Knox because of her experiences here,” Pleschner said. “We wanted to honor her and this fits perfectly with our greater goals. It’s a way for us to give her a voice.” 

Eckford’s request is for the scholarship to benefit Knox College students as a living legacy of her courage and contributions, and her gratitude for also having been given an entry scholarship to the College after completing high school. She was presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from Knox in 2018.

“I’m extremely grateful to the Becker Foundation for giving me this opportunity. I want other students at Knox to have the same opportunity that I had. Knox, in my mind, is so very unique. Students have the opportunity to explore and discover themselves in ways they never imagined,” Eckford said. 

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Printed on Friday, December 8, 2023