The Black Alumni Association's Ralph H. Metcalfe, Sr. Scholarship is awarded annually to two outstanding black students returning to Marquette University, based on their academic performance and demonstrated commitment to promoting diversity within Marquette and the community. View the application requirements here.

Born in Atlanta on May 30, 1910, and raised in Chicago, Ralph Harold Metcalfe became a national interscholastic sprint champion in high school. He later attended Marquette University in Milwaukee on a track scholarship. At Marquette he served as class president and captain of the track squad. Ralph dominated collegiate sprinting while at Marquette. During the 1930's, he broke or tied several world records and qualified for the 1932 U.S. Olympic track team, resulting in silver and bronze medals in the Los Angeles Games and regard as "the world's fastest human."

After graduating cum laude from Marquette in 1936 with a degree in physical education and a minor in sociology, it was politics that ultimately occupied the balance of his life. He taught at Xavier University in New Orleans from 1936 to 1942, served honorably in the U.S. Army, and eventually became an influential leader in Chicago long before the rise of the Civil Rights Movement. He served as alderman from 1955 to1970, and president of the Chicago City Council before being elected to Congress in 1970.

Among his many achievements, Ralph Metcalfe, Sr., co-founded the Congressional Black Caucus. He also introduced a resolution in Congress officially designating Black History Month in 1976. He was seeking a fifth term in Chicago's First Congressional District when he died in 1978. Posthumous honors include the naming of elementary schools, parks and the Federal Building in Chicago and Milwaukee, where an entire neighborhood, Metcalfe Park, bears his name.

The Black Alumni Association is an organization that focuses its efforts on the needs of students and alumni of color from Marquette University. It achieves this through promoting networking opportunities for alumni, recruiting, mentoring, and fundraising for scholarships on behalf of matriculating minority students. Contributions may be mailed to: Black Alumni Association, Marquette University Alumni Engagement & Outreach, 1250 W. Wisconsin Avenue, P.O. Box 1881, Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881. You may also contribute online - Select "other" for the designation, then type in "Ralph Metcalfe."

Interested in learning more or getting involved with the Black Alumni Association? Contact Rachelle Shurn, Prof St ’11, at

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