Autherine Lucy Foster, The University of Alabama’s first black student, received the honor May 2.
What We Know:
- Foster was admitted into UofA in 1956 after applying in 1952 but being denied due to her skin color.
- Her acceptance led to her being the first African American to attend a white school or university in the state of Alabama. This victory was short-lived — Foster was expelled from the school three days later due to riots and threats to her life.
- In 1988, she returned to UofA with her daughter, Grazia, to continue her education and they both graduated together. Her initial dismissal was annulled and she was honored with two endowed scholarships and a historic marker and clock tower named for her on campus.
- UofA honored Foster as their first civil rights trailblazer by bestowing her an honorary doctorate degree.
“The difference is that the crowds are here, but I see laughing faces instead of people frowning and displeased at me being here,” she told WBRC.
- UofA President Stuart A. Bell said that her “tenacious spirit, gracious heart for helping others and unfailing belief in the value of education and human rights positions Mrs. Foster as a meaningful example of what one can achieve in the face of adversity.”