Featured Fund - Julian A. Taylor Fund
There are some people who make an impact in the community during their lifetime that the community can’t help but give back in their honor after they’re gone. One such person was the Rev. Dr. Julian A. Taylor.
Dr. Taylor, who was pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church for 42 years and founder of the Naugatuck Valley branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, (NAACP), where he served as president for 33 years. At the time of his death, he was a vice president at large of the National Baptist Convention of the United States and was a former member and president of the Connecticut Baptist Missionary and the New England Baptist Training Union.
VCF Board Member, Diane Stroman, grew up in Dr. Taylor’s church. “We called him a scholar, teacher, civil rights leader, community activist, politician, and mentor to young people,” she said. “He was the type of person who could have a conversation with anyone, but he probably spent most of his time counseling students in Ansonia, encouraging them to set their sights on acquiring as much education as possible.”
After his passing in 1981, his family reached out to the community to pull together the funds that would offer an annual $1,000 scholarship to the highest-ranking African American student from Ansonia High School with grade B or better, going to four-year college or university.
In 2005, given the strong ties to the community and impact of the scholarship, the committee worked with VCF to secure the future of the scholarship and established the Julian A. Taylor Fund. Today, the fund committee distributes a $5,000 scholarship each year. Then, in addition, the JAT Scholars program, which started in 1988, awards $100 to the highest-ranking students in grades 3 to 11, to encourage them to do their best and maybe the recipient of the college scholarship.
Diane currently chairs the committee that has taken on the work of continuing the scholarship fund after the Reverend’s family moved away from the area. “We’re the workers but it’s really the community that makes this happen by preserving his memory and his mission to help kids.”
Many past scholarship recipients contribute to the fund annually and one has committed time to the committee. Diane noted, “Six children from one family became JAT Scholars and went on to become nurses and lawyers. We see them when they participate in the annual awards dinner.”
Diane remembers Dr. Taylor as a distinguished and debonair gentleman - born in North Carolina and educated in Washington D.C. with degrees from Howard University and Columbia University - and someone who inspired her. “When you have an individual who takes time to do things for you as you grow up, you turn around and give back that back to your community. I think education is the key to anyone’s success and I want to see our students succeed.”
This article appeared in the Summer 2021 edition of Legacy Matters; read the full newsletter here.