A new scholarship for students of color at the West Virginia University College of Law honors the late Franklin Cleckley, who was the first African American faculty member at the college and one of the first African American professors at WVU.
The anonymous donors have pledged $100,000 over four years to establish the scholarship fund.
"Franklin D. Cleckley devoted his life to contributing to law students, the judicial system, the underserved, the forgotten, the ignored and the disenfranchised,” the donors said in a joint statement. “He provided inspiration and mentorship to hundreds of lawyers who, under his guidance, sought to provide high-quality service to others.
"Professor Cleckley had a personal goal of increasing the undersupply of minority lawyers. It is with much pleasure that we are able to establish the Franklin D. Cleckley Minority Scholarship at the WVU College of Law.”
Cleckley, also a prominent jurist and civil rights activist, died in 2017; he taught at WVU Law from 1969 to 2013.
He was the first African-American justice on the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, serving from 1994 to 1996 and authoring more than 100 majority opinions.
He wrote the “Handbook on Evidence for West Virginia Lawyers” and the “Handbook on West Virginia Criminal Procedures,” which are widely considered the bible for the state’s judges and attorneys.
As a practicing attorney, Cleckley successfully argued important anti-discrimination cases that helped integrate West Virginia and bring social justice to the state. During the Vietnam War, Cleckley served as an officer in the law specialist program of the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General, earning the reputation of being the most requested lawyer by defendants.
The gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.