Edward McKnight Brawley

A statue bust of Brawley

In 1875, Edward McKnight Brawley (1851-1923) became the first African American to earn a bachelor's degree from Bucknell University. Brawley later went on to earn a master’s from Bucknell, and then to become a minister, religious scholar and journalist. He would later go on to be the president of Selma University and Moore College, which he also helped establish.

Brawley's accomplishments at Bucknell and beyond have paved the way for generations of students to achieve the things that were once considered impossible.

To commemorate Brawley's legacy, the Black Alumni Association established the Brawley Fund in 1993. The Brawley Fund provides funds for student activities that promote learning outside of the classroom, such as research and internship opportunities. This fund also supports students who were underrepresented in these areas in the past.

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In 2017, after being inspired by the accomplishments of students who were assisted by the Brawley Fund, Professor Carmen Gillepsie, English, proposed the idea of a work of art that would honor Brawley's legacy. Professor Joe Meiser, art & art history, was commissioned to create the bronze bust that now sits at the southeast corner of the Vaughan Literature Building. The installation includes words from both Brawley and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who visited campus in 1958.