A four year full tuition scholarship to Williams Baptist College at Walnut Ridge has been established through the Foundation in the name of Moses Knight by an anonymous couple who have said they were deeply touched when they read the story of Knight a few months ago in a local newspaper. After giving it some thought, they decided to reach out in kindness, just as Knight did when he resided in Rector in the first half of the 20th century.
A small uneducated black man, Knight was for years the only person of color residing in Clay County. He was quiet and unassuming, yet his love, kindness and affection for children earned him a very special place in the hearts of all who knew him.
Helping Hands co-founder Bill Carter of Lebanon, Tenn., a native of Rector, and Eric Turner, WBC's Vice President for Institutional Advancement, were on hand for a press conference Friday morning, Dec. 12, announcing the scholarship, which will go to a disadvantaged student chosen by a Foundation committee. A number of other Foundation board members also were on hand to celebrate the news. Turner said tuition at the school currently is about $11,000 a year.
Carter asked the scholarship donors to be identified so they could be properly thanked, but was told a gift of Christian love should not be given for personal recognition. The scholarship requires the donors forever remain anonymous.
"The man called and said he had read the story about Moses Knight in connection with the Paul Frets painting of Moses, which brought $10,500 for the Foundation in an auction held Labor Day weekend," Carter said. "He said he was curious at first as to why an old black man who couldn't read or write would generate so much interest.
After getting the full story, he told me, he and his wife decided to endow a scholarship 'from now to eternity' in Moses Knight's name."
"We want to preserve the name of Moses Knight, but we live by the Bible and don't want our names known," the donors told Carter.
Frets, a Rector native who now resides in Radford, Va., where he is Professor Emeritus of Art at Radford University, completed the painting of Knight after Carter asked him to consider the work as a Foundation fundraiser. The beautiful portrait is far different from most of Frets' abstract works, and he told Carter there were times when he wondered if he should do it.
"I'd start doing something else, then something would nudge me and I'd return to the Moses Knight painting," Frets said. It was almost as if Moses himself was giving him a little push from above.
"Moses Knight must be smiling down on those who were children and knew him," said an emotional Carter, who was among the many children who befriended the old man. "God was doing his work on behalf of Moses Knight. We should all be proud. He was a great citizen of Rector."
Carter grew a little misty-eyed as he reflected on memories he holds dear. "He sat on his porch and welcomed us. He gave love from his heart."
Students who are considered for the scholarship must maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average in high school and a 2.5 GPA in college studies at WBC. The scholarship will continue as long as the recipient meets the grade requirements and remains in school at WBC. As each recipient leaves the school, whether through graduation or for other reasons, a new recipient will be chosen.
The RHS Helping Hands Foundation was established in 2006 by Carter and his former classmate George Barker (Major General, U.S Army retired) of New York, to meet the short-term financial needs of disadvantaged Rector students. Since its inception, the Foundation has helped hundreds of students through the purchase of clothing, athletic equipment, band instruments, money for meals, dental care, health care, funds for field trips and much more.
Original article by Ryan Rogers - Clay County Democrat News Staff
Reprinted with permission from the Clay County Democrat.
Note: The Helping Hands Foundation sincerely appreciates the generous media coverage provided by the Clay County Democrat, The Tommy Mac Show, KAIT-TV and Triple FM Radio Group. These media outlets provide consistent and informative coverage of Foundation events. For their support, we are grateful.