While celebrating its centennial last year, the Sigma Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity at the University of Michigan decided to launch a LEAD scholarship fund named after the Honorable Harold J. Hood, ’52.
The group wanted to name the scholarship, which is administered by the Sigma Chapter Foundation, after a brother who embodied their fraternity motto: Achievement in Every Field of Human Endeavor.
“We are celebrating a major milestone. So we thought, ‘What better way to celebrate a major milestone than to recognize a major contributor to that milestone?’ Ultimately, we had many [brothers] we could have looked at. But he embodied everything that we represent,” says Maurice Morton, ’91, chair of the fundraising committee.
Judge Hood was an Army veteran, attorney, and judge, serving in Detroit and as the chief judge pro tem for the Michigan Court of Appeals. Hood, who died in 2015, left a legacy of compassion, determination, and great achievement in law.
The first recipient of the Honorable Harold J. Hood Leadership & Service Scholarship will be awarded this fall. The scholarship fund is designed to increase the recruitment and retention of Black men at U-M. When compared by race and gender, Black men are among the lowest group attending and graduating from the University. Through this merit-based scholarship, high-achieving high school students are eligible to receive a minimum annual award of $5,000.
The foundation first connected with the University to choose a scholarship that fit their goals and fraternity values and quickly was referred to the LEAD scholarship at the Alumni Association. LEAD appealed to them not only because it supports underrepresented students, but because of the community support offered in addition to scholarship funds.
“We know that with the LEAD scholarship, they not only get money to fund their college career throughout their time here, but in addition, they also get that broader community where they’re around other colleagues and peers who look like them or from similar backgrounds and are also high achievers and really striving to do great work,” says Reginald Hammond Jr., ’14, the foundation’s scholarship chair.
Judge Hood was the third African American person to serve in the law office for the City of Detroit and the first person of color to be the chief assistant United States attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. A lawyer himself, Morton recognizes the challenges Judge Hood faced in his career.
“Just knowing how it was for me, I can imagine how it was for him coming along in his day. It wasn’t very easy for an African American male to become an attorney, let alone a judge. Many obstacles existed along the way,” Morton said.
“Even though you’re top of your class, you couldn’t get a job at prestigious law firms or corporations just because of race. He had to work his way through the system,” remembers Judge Hood’s son, Kevin Hood, ’90. “But he always said, ‘The law is the law.’ So he mastered it, essentially. He had a love for it. Some of his key positions and papers were about discrimination and bias, finding it in institutions, and that motivated him. He knew he could have an impact.”
The first Honorable Harold J. Hood Leadership & Service Scholarship will be awarded in the fall of 2023. To support this scholarship, visit sigmachapterfoundation.org/#scholarship or donate through the Leaders & Best website.
Katherine Fiorillo is the editor of Michigan Alum.
Editor’s Note: This article originally incorrectly identified Maurice Morton as the chair of the Sigma Chapter Foundation. It has been updated to reflect his correct title, which is the chair of the fundraising committee.