Francis Marion University Alumna Creates Scholarship Honoring William H. Johnson

Staff Report

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

A new scholarship honoring Florence-born artist  William H. Johnson will support students in Francis Marion University’s  new African American Studies minor  while also bringing awareness to Johnson, and to African and African American art.

The new William H. Johnson Scholarship is  being made possible thanks in part to Dr. Wanda Fernandopulle (‘94, ‘97)  of Effingham, S.C.  

Fernandopulle, the senior dissertation chair at Grand Canyon University and a contributing writer for the Harvard University and Oxford University W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research, keeps both FMU and Johnson close to her heart. 

The two-time FMU alum — Fernandopulle received her B.A. in English in 1994 and her M. Ed in 1997 — is a lifelong lover of Johnson’s works. She said creating a scholarship at FMU just seemed like common sense. 

“FMU gave me a great education,” Fernandopulle says. “There is no greater place to create a scholarship in his name. Supporting African American art at FMU provides a pathway for students to see how art and history combined can tell a story.”

Johnson, who was born in Florence in 1901, is a modernist, most famous for his primitivist folk art style, which employs rich colors and dramatic design. Johnson left Florence as a teenager. He spent most of his professional career in New York and in various European cities. 

The $1,000 annual scholarship will be awarded to a rising sophomore in good academic standing and in pursuit of a minor in African American Studies. It will be managed by the FMU Education Foundation. 

For more information on the scholarship, or giving to FMU, contact the Foundation at 843-661-1225.