On August 24, 2015 my sister, Diane Brown of Baltimore, Maryland and I, Quintard Taylor, Jr. of Seattle, Washington, established the Quintard and Grace Taylor Scholarship Fund through the University of Minnesota Foundation in honor of our parents. By way of introduction, I am a proud graduate of the University of Minnesota, receiving an M.A. degree in American Urban history in 1971 where my advisor was Professor Allan Spear. In 1977 I received a Ph.D. degree in the History of African Peoples where my major professors were Allen Isaacman and Lansine Kaba in African History and Stuart Schwartz in Latin American history.
Proceeds from the Fund will be used for academically capable but financially challenged undergraduate students at the University of Minnesota. While the fund is available to all students, we want to especially encourage students of color to apply. Historically students of color because of past discrimination and relatedly the absence of crucial financial resources due to that discrimination, have been unable to access higher education. We believe this fund will in perpetuity help to address that need. We encourage all the recipients to give back after they have successfully established their post-college careers by helping others who are in similar situations. They may do so by donating to the Quintard and Grace Taylor Scholarship Fund or by helping in other ways to ensure that resources continue to be available to impoverished students who seek a university education. We do this because our parents believed in the importance of higher education and who despite meager resources, sacrificed throughout their lives to make sure their two children would have access to that education.
Quintard Taylor Sr. (1898-1969) and Grace Brown Taylor (1909-1991) were both born in poverty. Quintard was born in Tipton County, Tennessee while Grace Taylor was born in Memphis, Tennessee. They married in Brownsville, Tennessee in 1936. Their two children, Diane and Quintard Jr., were born in 1941 and 1948 respectively in Brownsville. Quintard Taylor Sr. completed the second grade and for most of his adult life managed a plantation near Brownsville. Grace Brown Taylor had one year of college at Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee in the early 1930s before leaving school to briefly teach at a one room school in Haywood County, Tennessee. After that she worked intermittently in a number of low-wage jobs including serving as a cook in the whites-only high school in Haywood County, Tennessee. The Taylor family even into the 1960s had an annual income that never exceeded $3,000 and in most years was far less. Nonetheless they were able to purchase a modest home for the first time in 1962. In 1959 they chose to send their oldest child, Diane, to Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. She graduated in 1964. In 1965 they sent their son, Quintard Jr. to St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina. He graduated four years later in 1969.
Despite their meager resources and limited educational backgrounds, Quintard and Grace insisted on their children attending college and struggled for decades to prepare their children for that opporunity and to provide both of them with what modest financial help they could afford. While the financial help was crucial, they also instilled in their children the value of education long before either child entered a college campus. They believed education and particularly higher education represented for us the surest way out of the poverty they endured their entire lives. They were correct and for that wisdom we are eternally grateful. We now have an opportunity to give back and we do so with the Grace and Quintard Taylor Scholarship Fund to honor their enormous sacrifice for us. We also hope their story (our story) will inspire the recipients and others to make their own sacrifices to better their lives and the lives of those in their communities, their states, and the entire nation.