Editor’s Notebook: Porter Scholarship, Toll Fellowship, a College Fair

OKLAHOMA CITY – From an Editor’s Notebook, Oklahoma’s historical black institution of Higher Education formally establishes a scholarship honoring the state’s first black senator, a city legislator is part of a prestigious fellowship program, and the third annual Black Elected Officials College Fair is scheduled for late August. 

Langston University has begun accepting donations to support a $10,000 endowed scholarship honoring E. Melvin Porter, the first African-American to serve in the Oklahoma state senate. Sen. Kevin Matthews, D-Tulsa, said potential donors and other interested individuals can contact Dana Hope Chism at 405-466-6024, or via email at dhchism@langston.edu, or visit the school’s website at www.langston.edu. 
“E. Melvin Porter was an important civil rights leader and worked to protect those rights while serving in the Senate,” Matthews said in a press release sent to CapitolBeatOK. “This scholarship will honor his life and service.” Additional information is available from Sen. Matthews at 405-521-5598. Matthews is chairman of the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus.

In other news from the state Capitol, state Rep. George E. Young, D-Oklahoma City, is among this year’s participants in the Henry Toll Fellowship Program. A legislative staff release described fellowship as “one of the nation’s premier leadership development programs for state government officials.” The program bears the name of the founder of the Council of State Governments (CSG). 
The Council “is the only organization that serves all three branches of state government. It is a region-based forum that fosters the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy. It offers regional, national and international opportunities to network, develop leaders, collaborate and create problem-solving partnerships.
“Each year, the Toll Fellowship Program brings 48 of the nation’s top officials from all three branches of state government to Lexington, Ky., for an intensive six-day, five night “intellectual boot camp”. This year’s event will be held Aug. 26-31.” 
Fellowships were awarded to four dozen participants from across America, with 12 coming from each CSG region. The program serves members of all three braches in government – legislative, executive and judicial. Young previously participated in the 2015 Center for the Advancement Leadership skills conference in Arkansas.   In a statement, Young said, “I was interested in applying for these two legislative leadership programs to help me be a better representative for my constituents in House District 99,” the Oklahoma City Democrat said.
“I was fortunate to be honored with this national recognition and opportunity. My experience with Leadership Oklahoma City (Class XX), Leadership Oklahoma (Class XVIII) and the Oklahoma Academy were catalysts to my applying for both of these legislative leadership programs.”

For the third year in a row, state Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City, is a leader for the Oklahoma County Black Elected Officials College Fair. This year’s event, slated for Saturday, August 27 at the Metro Technology Center’s eastside campus (1900 Springlake Drive). The fair sustains Shelton’s efforts to “show local middle- and high-school students that college is attainable, affordable, and should be a part of their career plan,” he said. 
In a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK, Shelton said, “I often hear young people say that college is too expensive for them to attend, or that they have not taken their academics seriously enough and don’t think they would qualify to go to college. I want our young people to know that not only is college within their reach, but that most colleges will work with students who do not have the best grades or test scores.” He continued, “The return on a college investment is so great that it frustrates me to see so many young people missing out on the opportunity to take a step toward a successful life.”
Among the program’s teaching points is to educate students (grades 7-12) and parents about non-traditional and affordable ways to gain post-secondary education. Topics will include scholarship applications, financial aid, test-taking techniques, college and job applications, and details on the Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship program.
County black elected officials are sponsoring the event, along with the University of Central Oklahoma, Perry Publishing and Broadcasting, Metro Technology Centers, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and LULAC (the League of United Latin American Citizens). Shelton’s staff is available for further information by telephoning (405) 557-7367.

In addition to Chairman Matthews and Reps. Young and Shelton, other members of the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus are state Sen. Anastasia Pittman, D-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa.