CDB Foundation

Gamal Williams | March 22nd, 2021
Gamal Williams (Photos by Khadijah Butler)

Gamal Williams (Photos by Khadijah Butler)

How does one turn tragedy into legacy? When the Butler family experienced the tragic murder of her father, the question wasn’t first and foremost in Khadijah Butler’s mind. Craig Butler’s life was an inspiration to Khadijah. Her face lights up when speaking about him. “My father was a family man; he was the life of the party. He was big on having a moral compass, and how my sister and I were to be perceived in the world. He was also a very giving man. He was murdered when I was 19, shot in the groin by a 14-year-old boy over a dispute. Yet, in that short amount of time in my life, he dropped so many jewels on me,” she shares.

The trial of her father’s murderer took a toll on Khadijah. “My first year at Temple University was tough. The trial was over the summer; it was on television and in the newspapers,” she says. She remembered her father’s lessons on education and fearlessness and stayed the course. After graduating summa cum laude with her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology (the study of the mechanics of body movements), the native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, saw herself working for her hometown team. “I initially wanted to be an athletic trainer for the Eagles! I thought it would be such a cool thing not only as a woman, but as an African-American woman,” she says. When Khadijah went to ply her craft, the hurdles necessary to break into the NFL as an athletic trainer left her a bit discouraged.

“I had to decide and learn how do I pivot. Initially, I though about nursing, but then an old friend said ‘Why don’t you get into clinical research? You have such a big heart and already give back so much. That is an industry you don’t see us in,’” Khadijah says. The idea intrigued her. “I thought ‘Okay. I could still use my degree. I could still focus on science. I could be a part of a new medical treatment or medication that could help people, especially with what’s going on today with COVID-19. Plus, I saw that there wasn’t really a lot of African-American women in that field.”

Undeterred and renewed, she decided to recommit herself to school and obtained her Master of Science in Management from Rosemont College. “I get my work ethic from my father, my fearlessness from him,” she shares. Khadijah accepted a position as a Project Data Manager for Clinical Research Organization, an opportunity that became extremely fulfilling for her. Yet, despite all of her success, Khadijah felt she could be doing more. It was then she remembered the life of someone that molded her into the strong, black woman she is today, her father.

Khadijah wanted to honor her father’s memory while helping the youth of Philadelphia. “We all know the gun violence that occurs in Philly, the educational gaps that exist in America, and when I think of the 14-year-old boy, who is now a man and still in prison, I wondered how could I tie all of that together to honor him? I wanted to redirect our youth on education and not gun violence,” she says.

In January 2020, Khadijah started the Craig D. Butler Scholarship Foundation with the goal of providing scholarships to deserving students. According to the Craig D. Butler Scholarship Foundation website, the CDB aims to aid young adults from under-served populations to pursue higher education. Each year, the CDB Scholarship Foundation will seek future high school graduates to offer financial support as they pursue their dreams in the aftermath of gun violence. The CDB Scholarship is an annual, merit-based competition, that focuses on instilling philanthropic values in ambitious, driven, goal-oriented individuals.

“I didn’t want to make the scholarship centered around what happened to my dad,” Khadijah explains, “but so many people became connected to my story. I decided if I was going to start a business, I wanted to do something to memorialize him. I toyed with the idea for years, then finally decided to just do it. I said, ‘This is the time!’ I wanted to do something to give back and build our family legacy,” she says.

Khadijah smiles now when she talks about her father, because it always leads to discussions of the CDB and how his legacy lives on. “It’s been twenty years since his death, and I miss him, but I am giving back to Philly and getting his name out there in a positive light through the scholarship,” she says.

Hard work. Sound morals. Giving back. Principles that define who Craig D. Butler was as a man, husband, and father, and now his legacy lives on thanks to his daughter for future generations to emulate.

To learn more about the Craig D. Butler Foundation, visit www.craigdbutlerscholarship.com or you can email Khadijah at info@craigdbutlerscholarship.com.

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