Established in 2015, the Alonzo F. and Norris B. Herndon Foundation presented a scholarship to assist undergraduate students pursuing a business degree who demonstrates the academic commitment, financial need, and personal understanding of the Herndon legacy. To be considered for the Herndon Scholars program, prospective students must:
Herndon Program eligibility qualifications include:
- Student must pursue a business degree
- 3.0 high school grade point average
- Student must demonstrate financial need
- Write a 500-word essay on the Herndon story and how it personally applies to their life
- Student must demonstrate their character and leadership skills
Selected applicant will receive $5,000 per year for up to four years.
The Herndon Story
Alonzo Herndon, a former slave born in 1858 in Social Circle, was ambitious. He sought to better himself and ultimately became a millionaire in Atlanta. After emancipation, he tried sharecropping but realized his path to success meant learning a trade. He learned barbering and eventually opened his own shop in Atlanta called the Crystal Palace. Historian Marcellus Barksdale describes the shop as fitting its name because it was decorated with crystal chandeliers, large mirrors, and Atlanta’s first plate glass windows. The barbershop served Atlanta’s white elite.
Through constant hard work and investments in Atlanta property, Herndon became the richest black man in America. In 1905, he founded the Atlanta Life Insurance Company, one of the largest black-owned financial institutions in the United States. Carole Merritt, director of Herndon Home, takes students on a tour of the house where Alonzo Herndon lived with his wife Adrienne and their son Norris.
Mrs. Herndon was the head of the Drama Department at Atlanta University and an actress. Their home, located near the university, is operated as a museum today. Merritt points out how the house reflects Herndon’s ancestry through a series of painted panels depicting his past. According to Dr. Barksdale, Herndon was the embodiment of the American dream and evidence that the virtues of hard work and self-help reward those who embrace them.
Herndon Scholars Program at Clayton State University
The Herndon Scholars Program at Clayton State University recognizes the significance of the Herndon family in Atlanta’s history. As shared by the Alonzo F. and Norris B. Herndon Foundation, Alonzo Herndon rose to prominence as an entrepreneur and philanthropist despite being born into slavery. His son, Norris, expanded the family’s legacy, establishing institutions that continue to exist until this very day. In sum, the Herndon story exemplifies the merits of hard work and strategic thinking.
The deadline to apply for the 2016 Herndon Scholarship is May 31, 2016.
Click here to apply for the Herndon Scholarship