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Mother: Foundation not keeping its promise

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Woman accuses Blackmon-Brace of reneging on $500 scholarship

By Jesef Williams

Roslyn McManus says her daughter, Latisha Potts, is still waiting on scholarship money that was promised to her from the Michael Blackmon Foundation in Lancaster.

Potts, a recent Indian Land High School graduate, was one of two area students selected as this year’s recipients of a $500 scholarship from the foundation, started in memory of the Lancaster man who died years ago from AIDS.

Linda Blackmon-Brace, Michael’s sister and a Lancaster City Council member, is the foundation’s president and chief executive officer.

Potts and Miranda Baker, a student at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, each wrote essays about leadership and the ways they would help President Barack Obama.

The two students were honored at a Feb. 28 banquet, where Baker was handed a check for $500, while Potts was told she would receive her scholarship later.

Blackmon-Brace said that decision was made because Potts had not graduated from high school yet, and historically, the foundation scholarships are awarded to students already enrolled in college.

“I gave the money to her (Baker) because she was already in school,” Blackmon-Brace said.

Blackmon-Brace said she told Potts and McManus that the money would be released to Potts after she provided documentation that confirmed her enrollment in college.

McManus said she and Potts were told that the money would be available for pick up June 1.

But when McManus stopped by the foundation’s office June 2, McManus said Blackmon-Brace said she didn’t have a check book with her and that she’d have the foundation’s assistant secretary, Randolph English, deliver a check to McManus.

McManus said she never heard from Randolph, and called Blackmon-Brace twice afterward and never received a call back.

Potts called the office last week and Blackmon-Brace told Potts that she wasn’t going to give her the scholarship, and if she did award any money, it would be sent directly to the institution, McManus said.

“She (Blackmon-Brace) didn’t give her any reason,” McManus said.

Blackmon-Brace said she held out on releasing the money because she’s still awaiting paperwork that indicates Potts’ enrollment in college.

However, McManus said Potts showed Blackmon-Brace an acceptance letter in February to the University of South Carolina at Lancaster.

At the time, Potts was planning to attend USCL to study nursing. But because of financial issues, Potts has now decided to attend York Technical College in Rock Hill.

Blackmon-Brace said the foundation prefers that its scholarship recipients attend USC – whether it’s the main campus in Columbia or a branch site such as USCL.

Blackmon-Brace doesn’t like that Potts has changed her mind about the scholarship.

“When she (Potts) applied for the scholarship, she said she was going to be attending USCL,” Blackmon-Brace said.

“I wanted it to be tied in to USC,” Blackmon-Brace said. “That was one of the reasons they were chosen.”

McManus, though, maintains that none of those guidelines were communicated.

Because of her change in plans, Blackmon-Brace said that if she awards the $500, it will be sent directly to York Tech, and not given to Potts personally.

Work history

McManus believes her previous work relationship with Blackmon-Brace has had some bearing on the way the scholarship situation with her daughter is being handled.

From February through most of March, McManus worked as Blackmon-Brace’s assistant.

McManus said she stepped down from the position because she didn’t agree with the way Blackmon-Brace was conducting business.

“The way she treated people, her professionalism,” McManus said.

But Blackmon-Brace said her past dealings with McManus have no effect on the scholarship for McManus’ daughter.

“The young lady has nothing to do with that, because she wrote a great essay,” Blackmon-Brace said.

On Friday, Blackmon-Brace said she didn’t know what the end result of the scholarship situation will be.

“It’s up in the air. I’ll let my board decide,” she said of the foundation board.

Meanwhile, McManus doesn’t agree with the way Blackmon-Brace has handled the situation. She said legal action is a possibility.

“She should have been more professional,” McManus said.

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at jwilliams@thelancasternews.com  or at (803) 283-1152