Nominees sought for 2010 Rose Butler Browne Award

Rose Butler Browne
The Rose Butler Browne Award was established in 1976 by friends and admirers of Browne, a 1919 graduate of Rhode Island College, who during her lifetime demonstrated outstanding leadership in professional and community affairs. The $325 award is funded by an endowment within the Rhode Island College Foundation.

Please consider nominating a deserving student for this leadership award.

The Rose Butler Browne Award recipient must be a graduating senior enrolled at Rhode Island College with a grade point average of 2.5 or better. Nominees are expected to have completed at least 100 hours of voluntary or paid service to a disadvantaged population during the preceding year in a community agency or activity; for example, the Urban League, a rehabilitation center, or community recreation center.

They are also expected to have demonstrated their leadership potential through effective, current performance in a leadership role and through recognition of leadership skills by their peers or supervisors. Most importantly, recipients are expected to have a commitment to developing their leadership potential.

The award is presented at the Cap and Gown Convocation in May.

Applications must be accompanied by a letter of reference from the applicant/nominee's immediate supervisor and a completed personal statement.

Click here to download application or visit The Unity Center web page for more information. Applications are due no later than Friday, March 12, 2010.

Antoinette Gomes, Co-Chairperson
Kristen Salemi, Co-Chairperson

About Rose Butler Browne

Born in Boston, Mass., in 1897, Rose Butler Browne grew up in Newport. While working as a live-in domestic, she earned a bachelor’s degree at Rhode Island State College, now the University of Rhode Island. She went on to earn her master’s degree at RIC and then to Harvard University where, in 1939, she became the first black woman to earn a doctoral degree in education.

Doctorate in hand, Browne went south and served on the faculties of Virginia State College, West Virginia State College and Institute, and Bluefield State College in West Virginia. She then transferred to the faculty of North Carolina where she served as chairman of the Education Department.

A crusader for black rights, Browne once refused to send students into teaching jobs in West Virginia as long as State’s Board of Education continued paying black teachers less than white teachers. The publicity and subsequent shortage of teachers forced the board to end its discrimination.

In 1950, she received an honorary degree from RIC, and in 1969, a RIC residence hall was named in her honor.

After retiring in 1963, Browne operated a day care center for children at the Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in Durham where her husband was the pastor. Later, upon returning to Rhode Island, she operated a summer school aimed at the culture gap faced by black children, and later worked with senior citizens.

In her 1969 autobiography, "Love My Children," Browne attributed most of her motivation to the influence of her great-grandmother, Charlette Ann Lindsay, named the “High Priestess” by her family. The daughter of an American Indian chief, she married a southern slave, worked six years to buy his freedom and later, in hope of bettering her children, migrated to a Boston ghetto. The “High Priestess” convinced Browne as a child that she, too, must overcome obstacles to better herself and her family. Browne passed away in 1986 at the age of 89.