By Dawn Scotland
Sojourner’s Truth Reporter
The members of the Thurgood Marshall Law Association held their annual Eddie M. Cole Scholarship Luncheon on Oct 19 at the Toledo Club. The organization awarded five law students with scholarships to a packed hall Tuesday afternoon.
The welcome was presented by Magistrate Carmille Akande, president of the Thurgood Marshall Law Association. Her address was followed by an invocation and acknowledgements by Vallie Bowman-English, Toledo Clerk of Court.
Monica J.D Yvonne led a tribute to Eddie Cole, the namesake of the scholarship and a trailblazer in the Toledo law and African-American community.
Cole, who turned 101 on October 1, was in attendance with his son, Edwin Cole.
Cole was born in 1920 in Belzoni, Mississippi. He graduated as the valedictorian of his high school class in Greenwood, MS in 1940. After receiving a competitive scholarship, he studied at Tougaloo College and served in the United States Army from 1943- 1946 where he traveled the world. In 1946, he relocated to Toledo, Ohio and, 70 years ago, in 1951, graduated from The University of Toledo College of Law.
He and his late wife, Edrene Benson Cole, had two children, Edwin and Elecia. Eddie Cole retired from law in 2011.
Cole practiced over 60 years in law in the community in private practice and in government positions where he was a staunch advocate of social justice.
Yvonne detailed the events that Cole has lived through as centenarian including the Great Depression, numerous wars, civil rights and now a global pandemic.
“When I get discouraged. I often [take] pause”, said Yvonne. “If he can do it. I can do it. We do it on the shoulders of Mr. Cole.” She reflected on Cole’s experience practicing as an attorney of color seventy years ago and her experiences today, giving praise to Cole’s endurance and grace and the impact he has had on her life and to the community.
“In closing I want to say thank you and we love you.” Yvonne hugged Cole as he received a standing ovation from the legal community he helped to foster. Yvonne ensured that the scholarship will remain a permanent tribute to the life and legacy of Eddie Cole.
Raina Dawson (University of Toledo Law c/o ’20) presented the Eddie M. Cole scholarships to Sarah Smidi (2L), Gabrielle Guilana (2L), Maria McGabe (3L), Hussein Kazwini (2L) and the Honorable Myron C. Duhart and Nicole Duhart Scholarship to Abagale McCurdy (3L). The introduction of the Keynote Speaker was given by Ashley Futrell.
The speaker for the afternoon was Charles Jake, vice president and general counsel of the University of Toledo. Jake, a Chicago native, is an alumnus of The University of Cincinnati College of Law and former Assistant General Counsel at the University of Cincinnati from 2005 to 2014.
“There is definitely adversity that you have to overcome,” said Jake, “and I would just encourage anyone who is going though adversity whether it’s in your personal life or in your career to not let it derail what you’re trying to do and to continue to work through it.” Jake expressed the importance of paying what is given forward signifying that legacy of the scholarship luncheon and its namesake continues.