The History of the Ridley Scholarship
In 1953, Dr. Ridley earned a doctorate of education degree from the University of Virginia, becoming the first black graduate of the University and the first black to receive an academic doctoral degree from a traditional southern white college or university. He graduated with high honors and his pioneering achievements in desegregating the University were noted in the national and international press at the time.
In 1987, during the biennial Black Alumni Weekend, John Merchant, a 1958 graduate and the first black to receive a jurist doctor degree from UVA, suggested that a fund be created in Dr. Ridley’s honor. Since then, hundreds of alumni, parents, and friends have joined forces to make the scholarship a reality. To date, more than 300 young men and women have benefited from the scholarships.