In 1953 the Marshall Scholarship program was established by an act of the British Parliament. Funded by the British government, the program is a national gesture of thanks to the American people for aid received under the Marshall Plan, the U.S.-financed program that led to the reconstruction of Europe after World War II. Since the inception of the program, more than 1,800 Americans have studied in the United Kingdom as Marshall Scholars.
The scholarships provide funds for two years of study at a British university, travel, living expenses, and a book allowance. Applicants must earn a degree at an American college or university with a minimum of a 3.7 grade point average.
This year 40 Marshall Scholarships were given out. While the British government does not publicize the race or ethnicity of Marshall Scholars, it appears that there is only one African American among the 40 Marshall Scholars. A year ago when there were 32 Marshall Scholarships awarded, four were African Americans. The sole African American Marshall Scholar is in sharp contrast to the record of seven African Americans who were among the 32 American students awarded Rhodes Scholarships this year. (See JBHE post.)
DeShawn McKinney is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is majoring in English and creative writing. McKinney won a Truman Scholarship last year and was a finalist for a Rhodes Scholarship this year.
A native of Milwaukee, McKinney is president of the Wisconsin Union and has been active in the Black Lives Matter movement. As a junior, he studied abroad in Tokyo. As a Marshall Scholar, he will study at the London School of Economics and Political Science.