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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Local non-profit honors Betty Jo Hunt with scholarship

A scholarship was established by Lumbee Regional Development Association (LRDA) at UNC Pembroke to honor a woman who helped lay the legal groundwork for wider recognition of and services to the Lumbee Tribe.

Chancellor Allen C. Meadors (second from left) with Provost Charles Harrington, James Hardin and Dr. Nicholas Giannatasio.

Chancellor Allen C. Meadors (second from left) with Provost Charles Harrington, James Hardin and Dr. Nicholas Giannatasio.

Black Line

The late Betty Jo “Jo Jo” Hunt (1950-1996) was the first Lumbee woman to earn a law degree. After finishing studies at UNCP in 1970, she attended Duke University Law School and went to work in Washington, D.C.

LRDA is a 41-year-old non-profit organization whose mission is to provide services for Lumbees.

LRDA Director James Hardin, who met with University officials on June 3, said Hunt worked alongside the non-profit group for many years.

“I knew Jo Jo personally and professionally, and I know the work she did to help the Lumbee and all American Indians in her powerful positions,” Hardin said. “We all worked from the same page.”

Betty Jo HuntHunt worked in key leadership positions for the Senate Select Committee for Indian Affairs, the Indian Health Service, National Indian Education Advisory Council and the Indian Policy Review Commission, which was charged by congress with developing criteria for tribes like the Lumbee to be federally recognized.

“Jo Jo Hunt came from an outstanding family and had an outstanding legal career,” Hardin said. “We are all very proud of her.

“It is our hope that others will step up and contribute to the Betty Jo Hunt Scholarship,” he said.

Chancellor Allen C. Meadors offered thanks on behalf of the University.

“A scholarship will benefit our students, and we are grateful to Mr. Hardin and LRDA for this gift,” Chancellor Meadors said. “More importantly, a scholarship is a fitting tribute to Betty Jo Hunt that will serve as an inspiration to all of us.

“Ms. Hunt worked for tribal benefits and recognition in the early stages of this effort,” he said. “We are hopeful that recognition will happen with this Congress.”

Dr. Charles Harrington, provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs, applauded LRDA and its leadership for the initiation of this scholarship. 

“This opportunity recognizes the inordinate accomplishments of an extraordinary woman,” Dr. Harrington said. “This scholarship will provide opportunities to other Lumbee women to carry on the great legacy of Jo Jo Hunt.”

Hunt was born to Alton and Eva Hunt, a prominent farm family of Back Swamp Township. She graduated from Fairgrove High School.

For more information about the Betty Jo Hunt scholarship or giving to the University, please contact Alisia Oxendine, Director of Collegiate Development, in the Office for Advancement at 910.521.6252 or email advancement@uncp.edu.

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