The Black Wall Street Tycoon Who Keeps On Giving To Higher Education

In commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Supreme Court's ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, in 2004 Alphonse Fletcher Jr. announced a $50 million commitment to fund people and institutions that are working to further racial equality. Fletcher, a graduate of Harvard University, is CEO of Fletcher Asset Management, a Wall Street hedge fund firm that manages more than $450 million in assets.

A major component of the grant money is devoted to the Fletcher Fellowship program. The Fletcher fellowships are available to individuals of any race. They are administered by the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University. Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the institute, is the chair of the Fletcher fellows selection committee. In 2005 the first 12 Fletcher fellows each received grants of $50,000.

Now Fletcher has made a further $3.2 million donation to establish the Alphonse Fletcher Professor of Law chair at the Columbia University School of Law. The endowed chair, named after Fletcher's father, will fund the research of a scholar who deals with issues such as criminal justice, education, and affirmative action.

The first occupant of the chair will be Jack Greenberg, an 81-year-old white scholar who was the assistant counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund under Thurgood Marshall and argued the Brown case before the Supreme Court. In 1961 Greenberg succeeded Marshall as director counsel of the LDF. He has served on the Columbia law school faculty since 1984.


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