The first Martin Luther King, Jr. & Fannie Lou Hamer Scholarship was presented to two students: Christopher Ballard is a 2014 graduate of Bullard High School who plans to study history. Jasmine Caldwell is transferring from Fresno City College and plans to major in music.

This is the first FPU scholarship targeting African American students, who are historically and currently underrepresented in higher education in general, and Christian higher education in particular. The scholarship is also designed to raise awareness of Fresno Pacific within the African American community by sending a message that Christian higher education is affordable and accessible, as well as correcting misconceptions within the university, such as that the majority of African American students at FPU are student-athletes.

"It's a targeted effort to reach out to the African American community and build partnerships with congregations," said Rev. Karen D. Crozier, Ph.D., assistant professor of practical theology and director of faculty development—diversity (peace and justice). Crozier will mentor scholarship recipients as they deepen their understanding of peace and justice by serving in a West Fresno congregation or non-profit as part of the scholarship.

Named for two civil right leaders, the scholarship is a partnership between FPU and the West Fresno Ministerial Alliance (WFMA). Martin Luther King, Jr., was a pastor, activist and Nobel Peace Prize-winner who used civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs. He was a leader of the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. Fannie Lou Hamer was an American voting-rights activist instrumental in organizing Mississippi Freedom Summer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). She is known for saying, "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired." Both King and Hamer took a nonviolent stance to promote peace and justice and create social change.

WFMA is comprised of Fresno churches, faith- and community-based organizations representing more than 5,000 parishioners. The alliance serves the needs of the West Fresno community and the Fresno metropolitan area through spiritual revitalization and Christian development. (More at

To be eligible for the King & Hamer Scholarship, students must:

· Be part of a church or organization that is, or is in the process of becoming, a member of WFMA

· Meet all regular admission requirements and follow all admission processes for the traditional undergraduate, degree completion or graduate program in which they wish to enroll

· Be admitted to FPU

· Be born in the United States and be of black, African American or African descent

· Be willing to serve at least five hours a week in a ministry, organization or project in West Fresno that promotes peace and justice

The scholarships were presented at the WFMA Good Friday service April 18 at Saints Community Church of God in Christ.