Celebrating Black History Month: Indiana’s Black Trailblazers for Education

We know that the racial/ethnic diversity of our country and in Indiana is increasing. One area where that has become most apparent are our Indiana classrooms at all education levels. We recently reported in the Commission for Higher Education’s annual Equity Report that the amount of non-White high school graduates has grown more than 10 percent since 2007, and has been specifically attributed to the increase in Indiana’s high school graduate population overall. As our classrooms and world become more diverse racially, reflecting this shift in our educators and school leaders is not only a need, but has been scientifically proven to benefit students. This need for attracting more diverse groups of students to teaching in Indiana is not new, and there are two state financial aid programs in particular that have been created to address just that: the Earline S. Rogers Teaching Stipend for Minorities and the William A. Crawford Minority Teacher Scholarship. Both of these programs provide additional support to Black and Hispanic students who are pursuing degrees in teaching and school leadership. These programs were renamed in 2016 to honor the service of two highly impactful Black Indiana legislators. We’d like to highlight the individuals these scholarships are named after in this month’s blog.


Earline S. Rogers (1934-), is a native of Gary, Indiana and upon retirement in 2016 had served as a legislator in the Indiana House of Representatives and Senate for 34 years. Before beginning her service in the Indiana General Assembly, Rogers was a mother and educator in the Gary Community School Corporation. Passionate about the issues impacting her hometown, she served on city-council, eventually becoming the first-female council president for the city of Gary. In recognition of her efforts, she was selected to take on her district’s senate seat, where she was subsequently re-elected several more terms. She maintained that passion for youth, education and Northwest Indiana, while demonstrating a dedication to advocacy and collaboration with her peers. Rogers retired from her final term with the Indiana senate in 2016.


William “Bill” A. Crawford (1936-2015), was an Indianapolis native, a US Navy veteran and has been regarded as one of the most influential Black leaders in the state’s history. He served in the Indiana State House of Representatives for 40 years. During his tenure in the Indiana General Assembly he advocated for justice and policies that addressed disparities in communities, especially in education. Another thing you may not know is that Crawford was instrumental in establishing the Indiana Black Expo, an organization that still provides many resources to communities around the state, including the scholarships and educational programs. Crawford also demonstrated his commitment to education and his community by serving as the manager of outreach for Ivy Tech Community College and promoting its accessibility to adult learners, students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. Crawford officially retired from the Indiana State House of Representatives in 2012. 

These two individuals boast many years of compassion, advocacy and commitment to a better Indiana, qualities that are also often held by countless current and budding educators. We thank them both for their service and the paths they’ve made for future educators of color in Indiana.  Please encourage eligible students you know to apply for the great financial aid opportunities mentioned above in ScholarTrack.


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