REPORTS: Autherine Lucy, University of Alabama’s First Black Student, Dead at 92
Autherine Lucy, the first Black student to attend the University of Alabama, has died at 92, according to multiple reports.
Lucy, a native of Shiloh, Alabama, applied to attend the University in 1952 and was accepted, but saw her admission rescinded because of her race, which began a three-year legal battle between the University and the NAACP.
In February 1956, after a court order was issued preventing UA from blocking her admission, Lucy stepped onto campus as the Capstone's first-ever Black student. Days later, though, racist protestors gathered on campus, forcing Lucy to shelter for hours in the building that now bears her name.
The University of Alabama Board of Trustees ultimately suspended then expelled Lucy in an effort to keep the peace on campus.
Much water has passed under the bridge since then -- the University annulled Lucy's expulsion in 1988, and she earned a master of arts in elementary education in 1991. She has been awarded an honorary doctorate, and the Autherine Lucy Clock Tower in campus' Malone-Hood Plaza bears her name.
The building renamed after Lucy has, for decades, been Bibb Graves Hall, named after former Alabama Governor David Bibb Graves, whose contributions to education and for the advancement of Black people in the state are overshadowed by his membership and leadership in the Ku Klux Klan at the turn of the 20th century.
During a long and systematic examination of the names of buildings and structures on the three University of Alabama System campuses, the Board of Trustees voted last month to rename the College Lucy-Graves Hall in an attempt to honor both figures, but the decision was met with widespread criticism and a week later, the Board voted again to drop Graves' name from the building entirely.
At the ribbon-cutting ceremony last Friday, Lucy's last public address was a message of love and reconciliation.
"Friends and fans of the University of Alabama, I love you so much," Lucy said. "If I am a Master Teacher, you know what I hope I'm teaching you? That love will take care of everything in our world, don't you think?"
UPDATE: The University has confirmed the news and issued a statement from President Stuart Bell.
“The UA community is deeply saddened by the passing of our friend, Dr. Autherine Lucy Foster,” Bell said. “While we mourn the loss of a legend who embodied love, integrity and a spirit of determination, we are comforted by knowing her legacy will continue at The University of Alabama and beyond. We were privileged to dedicate Autherine Lucy Hall in her honor just last week and to hear her words of encouragement for our students. Dr. Foster will always be remembered as one who broke barriers, reminded us of the respect due to every individual and lived a life of strength in steadfast service to her students and community.”
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