Kentucky State University's Fine Arts Department has become $25,000 richer thanks to senior Harlan Justice II.
Justice is the grand prize winner of the 2003 Verizon Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) student art competition for his acrylic painting "Under the black umbrella." He was honored Saturday evening in New York's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
Justice was one of 20 semifinalists in the competition. All of the artwork was showcased in a New York art gallery for two months and the judging began on July 14.
Verizon's spokesman, actor James Earl Jones, announced the winners during the award ceremony. Justice received a $2,000 cash award and a 12-week paid internship in Chicago at Verizon's multicultural Burrell Advertising Agency and KSU was given a $25,000 Verizon Foundation Art and Technology grant.
Justice said winning was the best Christmas and birthday present combined.
"You can't describe that feeling," he said. "It is a validation for living and this is why I am alive, so I was extremely happy about winning."
The California native plans to use his $2,000 to help pay for graduate school and other bills.