Commentary: George Floyd scholarship sends black kids the exact wrong message

The University of Minnesota should be lifting up models of character and achievement that convey hope and opportunity, not death and despair.

University of Minnesota/Facebook

(The Federalist) — The constant push to virtue signal to the idol of social justice is causing some of our historically trusted institutions of academia, health care, and journalism to lose the public’s trust and is further splintering our nation. Minnesota seems to be in the epicenter of it all.

The Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota endowed a new scholarship to honor George Perry Floyd Jr. It’s the wrong decision and undermines the work of the civil rights movement and what we communicate to black American children across the country.

What happened to George Floyd was a travesty. But it is important we remain disciplined in acknowledging that tragedy. When honoring someone’s life in a scholarship at an institution of higher education, we should honor the sacrifice, achievement, and virtues of a person’s life.

With approximately 50 percent of black students graduating from Minneapolis Public Schools, near the bottom of the country in achievement, and approximately 80 percent of black children born in fatherless homes in the Twin Cities, the University of Minnesota should be lifting up models of character and achievement that convey hope and opportunity, not death and despair.

University of Minnesota alumnus Wes Laseski conveys a message that I agree with whole-heartedly: “While I support diversity and inclusion for all, I do not believe that Carlson establishing a George Floyd scholarship is the best way to accomplish this objective. What about establishing scholarships recognizing great Americans or great student accomplishments in the name of bringing our country together? Let’s build around positives rather than negatives.”

Laseski believes “that George Floyd’s personal history should make him starkly ineligible for the namesake of a scholarship: combining his terrible personal history, including imprisonment, drug abuse, and physical assault with the absence of any commitment such as fatherhood, makes me question how Carlson can establish a scholarship in his honor.”

Carlson should convey to incoming students that education can improve their lives while making our country even greater, and the scholarship does not do that, Laseski concluded.

There are many other black Americans who could be honored with a scholarship in their name. We often reference past iconic figures, but contemporary figures worthy of such honors include Condoleezza Rice, Michelle Obama, Dr. Ben Carson, Justice Alan Page, Judge Wilhelmina Wright, and many others from various disciplines. They all overcame significant obstacles in life with the virtues of hard work, perseverance, and belief in the promise of America.

I urge the university to reevaluate the decision and consider renaming the scholarship in order to convey a different and more positive message. The zeal for political correctness and social justice should not cloud our better judgment.


Kendall Qualls

Kendall Qualls is the President of TakeCharge, Minnesota which is an organization committed to supporting the notion that the promise of America works for everyone regardless of race or station in life. Mr. Qualls was a Republican candidate for Governor of Minnesota. Prior to his candidacy, he was a health care executive and served in the U.S. Army as an Artillery officer. Mr. Qualls has been married for 36 years and has five children.