Standing ovations are in order as we celebrate the four Black 2020 Rhodes Scholars, including Kristine E. Guillaume, the first Black female editor of the Harvard Crimson.
The Rhodes Scholarship grant is hailed as one of the highest honors bestowed upon college students worldwide and includes a full scholarship to the prestigious University of Oxford for a two-year master’s degree with a third year possible upon approval.
The program began through the will of Cecil Rhodes, former prime minister of Cape Colony in Africa. Rhodes made a large portion of his fortune through pillaging the motherland for diamonds through his BSAC, or British South Africa Company, and originally intended for the grant to go to white men from specifically English areas. As the scholarship requirements were revised, the grant would soon accept women, people of color and students from all countries. In 1907, Alain Leroy Locke of Harvard University was the first Black person to be named Rhodes Scholar, but there wouldn’t be another Black inductee until 1963. Some believe Locke slipped through the selection process because the committee didn’t know he was Black.