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Harding University dedicates memorial in remembrance and honor of Botham Jean

by The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | September 26, 2021 at 4:20 a.m.

Harding University will unveil a memorial bearing the image of Botham Jean on Wednesday.

The dedication ceremony in front of the David B. Burks American Heritage Building on the university's main campus in Searcy will be held on what would have been Jean's birthday. Jean was a 2016 Harding University alumnus who was killed Sept. 6, 2018, at his home in Dallas.

The shooter, Amber Guyger, now 33, is a former Dallas police officer. She was returning home from a long shift and mistook Jean's apartment for her own, which was on the floor directly below his. Finding the door ajar, she entered and shot him, later testifying that she thought he was a burglar.

Jean, a 26-year-old accountant, had been eating a bowl of ice cream before Guyger shot him. She was later fired from the Dallas Police Department. In 2019, she was convicted of murder and given a 10-year prison sentence in Texas. She is eligible for parole in 2024.

Jean's death drew national attention because of the strange circumstances and because it was one in a string of shootings of Black men by white police officers.

During his time at Harding, Jean was a member of the Good News Singers, a resident assistant, an intern for the Rock House campus ministry and a leader in Sub T-16 men's social club. Jean, who was from Saint Lucia in the Caribbean, frequently led worship during daily chapel services and other campus events. He was well-known on the Searcy campus for his charismatic and powerful song leading.

"Botham was a unique and influential leader on our campus," said Harding University President David B. Burks in a statement. "I loved his smile, the way he led singing in chapel and at church, and his enthusiasm for life. I believe that the memorial will help generations to come remember Botham Jean and his Christlike influence."

In addition to the monument, two scholarships were established in 2019. They are given annually in memory of Jean. The Botham Jean Memorial, created by Jean's parents Bertrum and Allison Jean, is given to students who have lived in the Caribbean. A second scholarship established by the Paul R. Carter College of Business Administration, in cooperation with PricewaterhouseCoopers, Jean's employer, is given to historically underrepresented populations as they pursue degrees at the Harding College of Business.

The dedication ceremony is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. and is open to the public.

Print Headline: Harding to present memorial in honor of alum Botham Jean

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