Benjamin Allen, the man believed to be the first African-American student to graduate from Xavier, now has an award that carries his name. The University’s black student association created the Benjamin J. Allen award in honor of the 1950 graduate. It is presented at the Antonio Johnson Scholarship Gala to those who impacted or furthered the development of African Americans at the University and in their communities. Damon B. Jones, a Procter & Gamble Co. executive and Xavier board of trustee member, was the first recipient.
Since returning to Cincinnati in 1946 after serving in World War II, Allen finished college and became a Realtor for the rest of his 50-year career. He and his wife, Helen, are avid art collectors and recently loaned their collection of African-American art to Xavier.
“He’s an outstanding human being and has a wonderful story about his experience at Xavier,” says Paul James, director for the University’s office of multicultural affairs.