There was laughter during the awards night at the Martin Luther King High School in Riverside, California last month when a white student, Jeffrey Warren, 17, was called up on stage and handed an African-American scholarship.
Warren said everyone in the hall was surprised when he appeared to collect the award and there was laughter. According to Riverside Press Enterprise, a hush fell over the School gym when Jeffrey was announced winner of an African-American student scholarship. Then laughter erupted when he got up to receive his $1,000 dollar award.
Etta Brown, chairwoman of the local Martin Luther King Senior Citizens Club’s scholarship committee, said: “We just couldn’t believe it at the outset. It was really something.There was a mixed feeling in the crowd.”
Daily Mail reports that although it was announced at the ceremony that the scholarship was only for black students, the application had only said that African-Americans were “encouraged to apply.”
Warren said he returned the scholarship because he thought “it was the right thing to do.” MSNBC reports that he is receiving praises for his decision and even offers of alternate financial help. School principal Darel Hanses, said: “I think it says a lot for his character and it says a lot of the character for the family. This was not something the school or school district asked him to do. He in our opinion won the award in good faith though there was a mix-up.”
Warren said the Martin Luther King Senior Citizens Club accepted the scholarship back when he returned it. He said: “They were very nice about it. They thanked me for being generous and for being a great kid.
Jeffrey’s father Rod, who teaches language arts at the high school, said: “Jeffrey and I wanted them to be happy. The ladies were trying to do something really nice.”
Riverside PE reports that attorneys from a Sacramento-based group, the Pacific Legal Foundation, that supports banning affirmative action in public agencies, said organizations may use private money to give scholarship to any group or class of persons or use any eligibility criteria they choose.