The Pastor’s Pen: February 9, 2020

During Black History Month, we commemorate the achievements and legacies of African Americans and recognize the role of Blacks in American history. Today, I pen my thoughts on the memory of an African American legend who worshiped with us for many years. Although Harry Roberson, Jr. contributed much to our community and beyond, many of us knew little about him because he was a “quiet giant.”  Today, we launch the Dr. Harry Roberson, Jr. Memorial Scholarship. Meet this “Prince Among Men.” 

A native of a tiny town in Arkansas known as Malvern and born to humble circumstances, Dr. Harry Roberson, Jr., fulfilled a lifelong quest to advance professionally and to inspire and help others to excel regardless of social, racial, and economic barriers.

Dr. Roberson believed that a better life could only be achieved through education.  Nevertheless, when he graduated from high school in 1946, he had no idea how he would manage to pay for his college education. But as fate would have it, one of Dr. Roberson’s former teachers–Ms. Fanning-Bailey–opened the door for Dr. Roberson to launch his education. Dr. Roberson never forgot the encouragement and opportunity provided by Ms. Fanning-Bailey that enabled him to advance and succeed in his chosen career of finance, business, and management. Consequently, Dr. Roberson vowed to “pay it forward” by supporting students seeking educational opportunities. 

Dr. Roberson began doing so the day he graduated from his beloved Philander Smith College (PSC) in 1950.  Since that day, for nearly 70 years, Dr. Roberson provided scholarship assistance to eligible students. As part of Dr. Roberson’s activities, in 1988, he established the Harry Roberson, Jr. Endowed Scholarship Fund to provide financial assistance to students at PSC.  He also established the Fund to demonstrate his gratitude to the school that had given him so much and made it possible for him to attend college and lead and live a successful business career. 

For his philanthropic and altruistic desire to improve human welfare, in 1989, Dr. Roberson received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the National Alumni Association of PSC after serving more than 40 years of active membership. Also, in 2010, Dr. Roberson was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by PSC in recognition of his unstinting service and devotion to the ideals and precepts of the College. 

A proud life member of Omega Psi Phi, Fraternity, Inc., Dr. Roberson was a “man after God’s own heart.” He passionately sought God’s wisdom and word and recognized early on his journey that God’s grace ordered his steps. Throughout his quest for higher education and successful entrepreneurship, Dr. Roberson remained faithful to God and the church. 

Dr. Roberson’s quiet strength of humility and integrity were the essences of his generosity.  The scholarship named in memory of this “Prince Among Men,” bequeathed to the historic Shiloh Baptist Church of Washington, DC, under the stewardship of the Shiloh Scholarship Committee, is a testament to Dr. Roberson’s love for his church of 35 years, and affirms his commitment to providing financial assistance to youth who are pursuing a college education. The legacy of Dr. Harry Roberson, Jr., will live in perpetuity.

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“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and He delighteth in his ways.”

– Psalm 27: 33