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Scholarships set up in Arbery’s memory


As the 2nd anniversary of Ahmaud Arbery’s death was reflected with vigils and community events in Atlanta and in Brunswick, Georgia, Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones marked the day speaking during a program at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. 

During her speech, Cooper-Jones said of his death that she wants the world to think of one thing: Change. “Laws changing is just the beginning,” she said. “Next we must change the minds and the perception of Black men in this country.” 

Saying “Justice goes beyond judgment made in the courtroom,” Cooper-Jones announced the establishment of a scholarship program set up in her son’s name – the Ahmaud Arbery Foundation – in hopes that no other family will endure pain similar to hers since Ahmaud, then 25, was shot and killed on Feb. 23, 2020, by three white men. 

Cooper-Jones said the nonprofit foundation will award six $3,000 scholarships to students at Brunswick High School, where Arbery graduated in 2012. The recipients will be announced on May 8, which would have been Arbery’s 28th birthday. “We believe in helping to create opportunities for young Black men to further their education, to start a business, to simply build a life — something Ahmaud did not have the chance to do.” 

Many have compared Cooper-Jones to Mamie Till in her persistent fight for justice for her son, 14-year-old Emmett who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 after being accused of offending a white woman in her family’s grocery store. The brutality of his murder and the fact that his killers were acquitted drew attention to the long history of violent persecution of African Americans in the United States. 

Cooper-Jones said. “Justice goes beyond judgment made in the courtroom. Justice ensures every child, no matter what their skin color, his socioeconomic situation, is safe and has equal opportunities to realize their dreams.” The announcement and anniversary of Arbery’s death came the day after Travis McMichael, 36; his father, Greg McMichael, 66; and William “Roddie” Bryan, 52, were convicted of federal hate crimes. 

The McMichaels and Bryan, sentenced last year to life in prison, were found guilty of federal hate crimes by a jury of one Hispanic, three Black, and eight white members. 

Since Arbery’s death, Glynn County has hired its first Black police chief in the department’s 102-year history. The 36-year-old mayor of Brunswick, Crosby Johnson, was on the program and told the invited crowd, “My generation now knows the bloodstained soil that bears strange fruits and now more than ever hold the seeds of injustice that’s sew action that has been led by Ms. Wanda Cooper-Jones.”


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