This week marked one year since Philando Castile was shot and killed by Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez. In the year since, Yanez went to trial for manslaughter and walked free. While they won’t receive justice for their friend’s death, Castile’s classmates have still found a powerful way to keep their friend’s memory alive: setting up a scholarship in Castile’s name. The first recipient was awarded this past Wednesday.
The Philando Castile Memorial Scholarship is an annual award for one of the school’s graduating seniors. The scholarship is intended for an“African American male or to a member of another underrepresented demographic in education.”
Minnesota Public Radio reported that the $5,000 scholarship was awarded to Marques Watson, a recent graduate of St. Paul Central High School, of which Castile was an alumni. Watson told MPR:
“Before I received this scholarship, I had no way ... at all, that I was going to be able to help myself, and my family really has no money to help me,” Watson said. “This scholarship is great because it takes a little weight off my shoulders.”
Watson plans to study mechanical engineering at St. Paul College.
The death of Castile, a nutrition services supervisor who was described as a“role model” to the kids he served, rocked the country last year after his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, filmed the aftermath of his shooting on Facebook Live.
The death sparked nationwide protests, especially since it came on the heels of another officer-involved shooting of a black man, Alton Sterling, the day before.
Castile’s classmates have now set their sights on creating a $100,000 endowment for the scholarship—and are more than halfway to their goal.