THE ICON: Norman Francis
THE LEGACY: Xavier University describes its mission statement as “contribut(ing) to the promotion of a more just and humane society by preparing its students to assume roles of leadership and service in a global society.” Even before he was appointed president of the historically black university, Norman Francis exemplified that mission, first as a barrier-breaking law student at Loyola and then as a young lawyer amid the civil rights era. In his 47 years at the Xavier helm, he continued it — and, indeed, elevated it — helping the university become tops in the nation in graduating black students with bachelor’s degrees in biology and physics.
THE ARTIST: Jessica Strahan, WhereYart.net
THE INSPIRATION: “I made a decision that education was going to be the answer for me because as I looked at the struggle for African-Americans, I knew we weren’t going to make it if we just kept showing up in courtrooms defending ourselves against whatever the circumstances. I felt that perhaps as an administrator or teacher in an institution I could do more. And I’ve never looked back.” — Norman Francis