Written by Susan DiMauro, student worker
In March 1939, Margaret Bush was awarded a scholarship by the Juliette Derricotte Memorial Fund for Undergraduate Study in India. The scholarship was designed to allow female undergraduate students with outstanding scholarship to travel and study abroad. Established by Sue Bailey Thurman, the wife of theologian Howard Thurman, the Fund honored the memory of the late Juliette Derricotte—a key member of the Staff of the National Student Council of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA)—and her appreciation for travel around the world.
In a report prepared about the scholarship program included in the Margaret Bush Wilson Papers, Margaret and the other 1939-40 recipient of the fellowship, Betty McCree, described their experiences on their fellowship-funded “travel-study tour.” After sailing from New York, Margaret spent May 1939 in London, Paris, and Cairo, “visiting points of interest” that included the Great Pyramids.
The subsequent five months were spent in India. While studying at Visva Bharati College in Bengal, Margaret “attended classes in Tagore’s literature, Hindi, Indian Constitution, Indian dancing, and India economics.” She had the opportunity to “brief[ly] visit” with Pandit Jewarahlal Nehru, who later became India’s first Prime Minister, and his sister, “Mrs. Pandit,” who was eventually appointed the first female President of the United Nations General Assembly. After a “visit to the Taj Mahal,” Margaret participated in an “interview with Mohandas K. Gandhi, international figure and acknowledged leader of all India” on November 9, 1939.
The fellowship concluded with visits to “points of interest in and about Singapore;” a “sight-seeing tour” of Kobe, Japan and a visit to Osaka, Japan; and about two weeks in Honolulu, Hawaii. On January 5, 1940, Margaret returned to the mainland U.S. by way of San Francisco, returning to complete her senior year of university at Talladega College, from where she graduated with honors in 1940.
Decades later, Margaret worked to revive and reestablish a scholarship fund in Juliette Derricotte’s name and honor, seeking to provide fellowships that might enable academically outstanding African-American college seniors to have similar opportunities traveling and studying abroad.
Source: Margaret Bush Wilson Papers, Original Series: Civic Activities
Image credits: Margaret Bush Wilson Papers, Original Series: Photographs
Margaret Bush Wilson Papers, Original Series: Civic Activities