RICHMOND, Va. -- Community activist. Educator. A force in the community. From rural New Kent County to the busy streets of Richmond, those who knew Oraphine Watkins Crump said she spent much of her 96 years working tirelessly, leaving an indelible mark.
“She was a well-loved pillar of her community and her family. Faith-based, strong believer in God and passed it on to her children, grandchildren, and all who knew and loved her,” Kia Jordan said of her grandmother who passed away last year.
To Jordan, her grandmother is Black history.
She’s lauded for becoming the first woman to serve as a loan officer at Consolidated Bank and Trust in Jackson Ward. That’s one of the nation’s oldest Black banks founded by Maggie Walker.
Mrs. Crump worked her way up to branch manager, where she retired after 25 years of service.
She’s also well known for her passion for education and making headlines after being appointed as the first African American woman on the New Kent County School Board.
“She really understood the value of education and business acumen at an early age. To advance her position at the bank, she attended night school while she was raising her three children alongside her husband,"
Rodney Taylor explained. "She devoted herself to educational equality and even organized the community response for including more African Americans on the school board. She did that in partnership with the NAACP and the Civic League. As a result of all of these efforts, Mrs. Crump was appointed to the seat herself. She took it with great pride and served for many, many years."
Intrigued and inspired by Mrs. Crump, Taylor, DeMond Chapman, and fellow VCU alumni who met in the Executive MBA program are now honoring her legacy.
They created a scholarship in her name. The other VCU alumni involved are Akia Jackson, Joel Phillips and Linda Hines.
“The many firsts she had in her life and her commitment to education and how she really preached education and helped so many people with education, it just seemed like it was a perfect marriage. So, we were happy to announce the scholarship in February—Black History Month,” Chapman added.
“Every time we talk about this scholarship is an opportunity to talk about her story and to give her legacy an opportunity to live on,” Taylor said.
“This opportunity would allow us to throw something out there that’s positive. We wanted to give someone the opportunity to get an education and help them through challenging times—some of those financial issues that they might have,” Chapman added.
“For our family, it’s a tremendous honor. It really does pull on my heartstrings. When my family was first approached, I thought wow! What an honor! To be her legacy and to see this and to know how proud this would have made her. I’m also very proud of the fact that it is my alma mater and me being a graduate of the VCU School of Business just makes it even that much more beautiful of a moment,” Mrs. Crump’s granddaughter explained.
She’s proud that her grandmother overcame such challenging racial barriers.
Jordan is also convinced Mrs. Crump helped pave the way to a brighter future, not just in our community, but in our country.
“So when you see someone like Madam Vice President Kamala Harris ascend to the White House, she would not have gotten there had it not been for the Shirley Chisolms of the world, but also those little people that made those moments happen like my grandmother in their own communities,” Jordan added.
The Oraphine Watkins Crump scholarship in the amount of $5,000 will be presented in the fall to a first-generation VCU student who is in their sophomore year.
“My goal is to always share her story, but now even beyond me, her story will always be shared with the world through this scholarship and other platforms. Her legacy just continues on,” Jordan said.
Organizers aim to build the scholarship fund to add more students each year. They welcome the help of community donors.