The Eugene Williams Scholarship Fund (EWS) has been created to honor the memory of Eugene Williams, a 17-year-old African American from Chicago’s Southside whose death at the hands of a white assailant ignited the violence that came to be known as the 1919 Chicago Race Riot.
The failure of the Chicago police to arrest Williams’s killer resulted in growing racial tensions that exploded that night as gangs of white men and boys (the Ragen Colts and Hamburg Boys were among the gangs involved) started attacking innocent Black people in their neighborhood in what now is called Bronzeville.
In 2020, a few months after George Floyd’s murder, a descendant of Frank Ragen, who sponsored the Ragen Colts, the largest gang involved in the 1919 Chicago Race Riots, made a major donation to the Chicago Race Riot of 1919 Commemoration Project (CRR19), which publicly launched on 27 July 2019, the centennial of Williams’s killing. A committee convened by CRR19 decided that this donation could do the most good by putting the money back into the hands of Black children who themselves are the metaphorical descendants of Eugene Williams.
With the support and guidance of the Greater Bronzeville Community Action Council (GBCAC), which endorsed CRR19 in 2019 and has closely collaborated with the project ever since, the scholarship will provide financial assistance to young people in the Greater Bronzeville community navigating the many challenges rooted in Chicago’s complex history of racism and segregation. Prizes will be awarded to two students completing 8th grade and two graduating 12th graders. The awardees will be announced at CRR19’s anniversary event on Saturday, July 22nd.
For more on the Eugene Williams Scholarships, read this article: Nadira Jamerson, “Empowering Chicago’s Black Youth Through Scholarship and Action,” Word in Black.
Applications for 2023 are now closed. Thanks to everyone for their interest.