Participants in the launching of the England-Hardaway Scholarship Fund L to R: Cynthia Burton, Judge Eddie Hardaway, Judge John England, BBCF President Felicia Lucky and Greenetrack CEO Luther Nat Winn
On Monday evening, June 13, 2016, the Black Belt Community Foundation launched the England-Hardaway Endowed Scholarship Fund for students from the Alabama Black Belt to attend the University of Alabama Law School.
A reception was held at the UA Law School to launch and honor the two judges, for whom the scholarship is named. Circuit Judge John Henry England, Jr. of Tuscaloosa is a native of Perry County and graduated from the UA Law School in 1974. Circuit Judge Eddie Hardaway, Jr. of the 17th Circuit serving Greene, Sumter and Marengo counties, is a native and lifelong resident of Sumter County and graduated from UA Law School in 1977.
The Board of Directors of Greenetrack Inc., a Black owned gaming facility in Greene County, made the initial pledge of $25,000 to begin the scholarship Fund. An endowed scholarship to the UA Law School requires a principal fund of $180,000 to generate annual revenues to support one full scholarship.
At the reception, Felecia Lucky, President of the Black Belt Community Foundation explained, “This is our first endowed scholarship to honor two distinguished judges from the Black Belt, serving the Black Belt to make a way for future students from the Black Belt to have the opportunity to earn a law degree from the University of Alabama.”Lucky thanked Greenetrack and its CEO Luther ‘Nat’ Winn for providing the leadership and initial funding for the scholarship. Winn said, “Greenetrack wanted to recognize two outstanding judges, from and in the Alabama Black Belt – and to encourage young people to be able to attend UA Law School and contribute to the future of the Alabama Black Belt.”
Judge Eddie Hardaway said, “I am humbled by this action to honor me and provide opportunities to young people from the Black Belt. I also want to thank Greenetrack, its CEO and Board of Directors for their leadership in this scholarship effort.”
In his remarks, Judge England recalled the efforts of Ralph Knowles, a UA Law School faculty member who recruited him from Tuskegee and three other Black students from other colleges in Alabama – Michael Figures, Booker Forte and Ronald Jackson – to be the first Black students to attend the University of Alabama Law School in the early 1970’s.
“After we were selected, A. G. Gaston, Black millionaire, insurance and bank president, agreed to provide scholarship funds for them to attend the school. “Since that time, I have been thinking about ways to give back to the law school. This will be a beginning, facilitated by Greenetrack, to make a way for someone to follow me and serve the community,” said England.
England recognized his family members who were present, including John England III who is a Federal Magistrate in Birmingham and Chris England, who is a Tuscaloosa State Legislator. He also recognized Cynthia Burton, who was the office manager at his law practice, and John A. Bivens, his deceased law partner.
England said, “One of my goals was to have Black judges in every county in the Black Belt and I think we have achieved that and this scholarship effort will make it possible to train additional lawyers and judges for the future.”
Cynthia Burton, who is the Executive Director of Community Service Programs of West Alabama and Board chair of Maude Whatley Health Services, pledged $5,000 to the scholarship fund. She indicated that her contribution was to recognize the work of the late Attorney John A. Bivens, who was an integral part of the legacy of the England and Bivens Law Firm, which has done so much to nurture legal talent for Tuscaloosa and the Alabama Black Belt.
More on the background of Judges England and Hardaway
John H. England, Jr., a Perry County native, graduated from Tuskegee Institute with a B.S. degree in Chemistry in 1969 and graduated from the University of Alabama Law School in 1974. He received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Tuskegee University in October 1999.
He began practicing law in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 1974 and was elected to the Tuscaloosa City Council in 1985. He was appointed by Governor Jim Folsom to the Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court in June 1993 and was elected to a full term in November 1994, where he served until he was appointed by Governor Don Siegelman to the Alabama Supreme Court in September 1999. Judge England served on the Alabama Supreme Court from September 1999 until January 2001. He returned to the Circuit Court of Tuscaloosa County, Alabama in January 2001 and was re-elected to the Circuit Court in November 2002 and November 2008.
Judge England serves on the Board of Trustees for the University of Alabama Systems. He is a graduate of the 1996 Leadership Alabama Class. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Alabama Circuit Judges Association and is a past president (2013-2014).
Eddie Hardaway, Jr., a Sumter County native and resident, is the judge for Circuit 17th in Alabama. He is the first Black judge to serve on the 17th Judicial Circuit. Judge Hardaway received his law degree from the University of Alabama in 1977. He was admitted to the Alabama bar on April 28, 1978. Hardaway was a judge for the Sumter County District Court from 1980 to 1995. In 1995, he began working as a judge for Circuit 17. Judge Hardaway’s current term expires in 2018.
At the end of the speeches, Felicia Lucky distributed contribution envelopes and encouraged the persons present to contribute to the Black Belt Community Foundation for the England-Hardaway Scholarship Fund.
For more information about BBCF and to make additional contributions visit http://www.blackbeltfound.org or review BBCF on Facebook at “Black Belt Community Foundation”. You can also call or visit the BBCF offices at (334) 874-1126 in Selma at 609 Lauderdale Street or P. O. Box 2020, Selma. Alabama 36702.