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One in 3 US Rhodes Scholars African-American, Highest Ratio Ever

  • Jim Randle

FILE - Cadet Simone Askew, of Fairfax, Virginia, answers questions during a news conference, in West Point, New York, Aug. 14, 2017. Askew, an African American, is among 32 Americans awarded Rhodes scholarships to study at Oxford University in England.

One-third of the newest crop of Rhodes Scholars from the United States are African-Americans, the most ever elected in a U.S. Rhodes class.

Of the 100 Rhodes Scholars chosen worldwide for advanced study at Oxford in Britain each year, 32 come from the United States, and this time, 10 of those are African Americans. One of them is Simone Askew, the first black female student to head the Corps of Cadets at the U.S. Military Academy.

Other American scholars include a transgender man and students from U.S. colleges that had never had a student win a spot in the Rhodes program.

The Rhodes Scholar program is the most prestigious available to American students, but it had been criticized for excluding women and blacks until the 1970s.

The scholarship program was set up in 1902 by Cecil Rhodes, a wealthy British philanthropist for whom the nation of Rhodesia was named. After a civil war removed Rhodesia's white-minority government, that nation was renamed Zimbabwe.

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