The Beginning of the Emma L. Wilson King Scholarship


Shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday, I was sitting at my desk looking through papers, and the only thing I could really concentrate on was my mother. I had been thinking about her constantly. The date was November 30th, 2004, ten days after her death.

I noticed a paper in particular that really caught my attention. This paper listed names of students receiving scholarships in my school district. I became very excited and said to myself, “We can start a scholarship in our mother’s memory.” I could hardly wait to get home to share this thought with the rest of my family.

I shared with my husband about the scholarship. He was very supportive. I then called my sister, Ernestine. Her immediate response was, “That’s a good idea. I too was thinking of ways to honor our mother.” She then contacted our sister, Delores. Delores also agreed with the idea of a scholarship in our mother’s memory and shared that she too had been thinking of ways to honor our mother in a similar fashion. I called other family members to discover that they were also in agreement with a scholarship in our mother’s memory.

Ernestine, Delores, and I talked almost everyday in reference to our plans for setting up the scholarship. We finally came up with guidelines, rules, regulations, and the application form. I suggested the slogan, “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child. Let’s Continue to be a Part of that Village,” to be our motto.

We decided to have a family meeting on December 25th, 2004 and introduced our plans to the remainder of the family members. I decided to compose a letter outlining our purpose for the scholarship, means for financing it and other details.

Our first official meeting was December 25th, 2004 in the family home. I read the letter which outlined the rules, regulations, guidelines, application form, and funding for the scholarship. Other family members gave their ideas and input about the scholarship.

Even though this was a somewhat sad occasion (being the first Christmas without our mother), we were laughing, joking, and having a very good time. We were reminiscing about the positive influence and values mother instilled in us. We also shared childhood stories and joked about our Christmas presents. There was so much comfort, love, and warmth. We shared our smiles, tears, and joy. We needed this time together. It was such a blessing to have each other.

All twelve King children grew up in East St. Louis, Illinois, graduated from the public school system, and received a good education. We wanted to give something back to the community. This contribution is in honor of our mother who gave so much to others. This is not a one time contribution, but will last from generation to generation. Our first scholarship in the amount of $250.00 each will be given to two high school graduates from East St. Louis Senior High School in May, 2005. We are so honored to be a part of this endeavor.

The Emma L. Wilson-King Scholarship was the beginning of us honoring our mother’s memory. We are now embarking upon a new phase known as the Emma L. Wilson-King Foundation.

The foundation will include a civic committee, fundraising committee, and an educational committee. All of these committees will work toward the enhancement of the city of East St. Louis and its people.

By the year 2008, we are expected to have raised over $100,000 for the restoration of the Jones Park Fountain. This fountain will be renamed the Emma L. Wilson-King fountain. We feel committed and look forward to this great challenge in honor of our mother.


Bernice King-Sanders
Scholarship Committee President
February 2nd, 2005