The Billy Curl and Larry Bonner Scholarship

In February of 2021, the Carl Spain Center on Race Studies and Spiritual Action at Abilene Christian University established the Billy Curl and Larry Bonner Scholarship. The scholarship honors the legacies of Dr. Billy Curl and Larry Bonner, the first two African American undergraduate students to enroll in and graduate from Abilene Christian College (ACC, now Abilene Christian University – ACU) after the school repealed its “whites-only” admissions policy.  


Both Curl and Bonner were 1962 Southwestern Christian College graduates. While not seeking to be trailblazers, their courage and determination set them apart. Following their time at ACC, each of them established notable lives and careers, Curl as a minister, and Bonner as a businessman. 

Billy Curl & Larry Bonner: First full-time African-American undergraduates at ACU

Trinity Madison, Theatre-Education Major, St. Louis, MO
Demetrius “DJ” Hewitt, Criminal Justice Major / Legal Studies Minor, Lubbock, TX

The first two Curl and Bonner Scholarship recipients, Trinity Madison and Demetrius DJ Hewitt, were announced at the Spain Center’s 2021 Don Williams and Royce Money Distinguished Lecture Series. Madison and Hewitt each received a one-time award of $5000 to use toward tuition and fees associated with attending ACU. Additionally, they received internships with the Carl Spain Center for the 2021-22 academic year.

The Spain Center is grateful to the Moriah Foundation for funding the first four years of the scholarship. Contributions are now being accepted at to endow the scholarship in perpetuity. The endowment will allow the scholarship to bless young scholars who epitomize Curl’s and Bonner’s historical and living legacies for many years to come.