University of Alabama Admits First Black Student Feb03

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University of Alabama Admits First Black Student

1956 – U of Alabama First Black Student
Autherine Juanita Lucy becomes the first black student to attend the University of Alabama. She was born on October 5, 1929 in Shiloh, Alabama and attended Linden Academy from which she graduated in 1947. She then attended Selma University in Selma, Alabama and then Miles College, an all-Black school from which she graduated in 1952 with a Bachelors degree in English.  She decided to attend the University of Alabama to obtain a Masters degree and  and consulted with the NAACP, which assigned Thurgood Marshall, Constance Baker Motley and Arthur Shores as her attorney to prepare paperwork for the legal battle they knew she would have to endure. On June 29, 1955, they secured a court order preventing Lucy from being barred from applying based on her race.  The Supreme Court of the United Sates upheld this order and Lucy was able to officially register for classes. She was unable to live in any of the dormitories or to eat in any of the dining halls, however.

On February 3, 1956, she enrolled in the University’s graduate program seeking a degree in Library Science. When a mob tried to bar her from entering one of the buildings, the police were called in to escort her, but the University expelled her after saying that it could not provide a safe environment for her and then claimed that she had slandered the school. A lawsuit against the University was unsuccessful and for 32 years the expulsion was in effect.

In 1988, the University of Alabama reversed the decision to expel her and she was admitted to the University and received a Master’s in Elementary Education on May 9, 1992, the same day her daughter Grazia Foster also graduated, with a degree in Corporate Finance.

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