Biography Norm Francis: a Black Who Rose in the Field of Education
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Biography Norm Francis: a Black Who Rose in the Field of Education

The Negro always had to struggle harder than his white counterpart to succeed. Thus when an Afro-American makes it to the top echelons of any field he deserves greater accolades.One man who has risen from poverty to a respected position in education is Norman Francis. He was born in Lafayette, Louisiana in 1931 and grew up like the majority of Afro Americans as a poor and underprivileged child

America has a tortuous past as far as the Afro American is concerned. The Negro always had to struggle harder than his white counterpart to succeed. Thus when an Afro-American makes it to the top echelons of any field he deserves greater accolades.

One man who has risen from poverty to a respected position in education is Norman Francis. He was born in   Lafayette, Louisiana in 1931 and grew up like the majority of Afro Americans as a poor and underprivileged child. His father was a barber and mother a simple housewife with no formal education. Despite this the parents insured that their children including Norman got education. Thus Norman and his 3 sisters and an elder brother were educated in Catholic schools (Saint Pauls), from where he graduated in 1948.

Norman was lucky in one way that he was born in Louisiana as this state has 37% blacks as a percentage of the population. This meant that discrimination was a little less if he had been born in a state which had a miniscule black population. Never the less he excelled in academics and completed his B.S. degree in 1952. He has the distinction of being the first  African-Americanto enter Loyola University New Orleans. He followed up by joining Loyola University Law School which was another first from where he received his J.D. in 1955.

Francis however opted for a career in education than law. In between he had a stint in the US army in 1956-57. But his love was education and he returned to Xavier University during the civil rights movement led by martin Luther King. There was no looking back for Norman as he was appointed dean of men and rose further to Director of Student Personnel Services in 1963.  His meteoric rise continued with his taking over as Executive Vice President in 1967.

His fervent Catholic belief came in handy as the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament promoted him to the post of President of the University in 1968. It is on record that he was the first black and male to be appointed as President of the University. Francis has now held this position for over four decades making him the longest serving President of a university in the USA. The US government recognized his contribution to education and awarded him the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006.

Francis has all along fought for the rights of the blacks and is affiliated with the United Negro College Fund and National Commission on Excellence in Education. Francis married his sweetheart in 1955 and has 6 children. His life is an example of a true Catholic who brought lustre to the Afro American community.

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