TODAY IN BLACK HISTORY: Autherine Juanita Lucy was the first African American student to desegregate the University of Alabama. Lucy worked as a teacher before attempting to enroll in the all-white state backed university, along with a friend. The two were accepted until the school board discovered they were Black.  Upon their arrival to the admissions office, they were barred from enrolling. Lucy enlisted the help from the NAACP but it wasn’t until  the 1954 Brown vs the Board of Education  that she would once again confront the University of Alabama about their policies. Summer of 1956, a federal judge ruled that the school had to admit the two young ladies and in Feb. 1956, Autherine made history becoming the first Black student at the University of Alabama. 

Lucy received great support for the Black community and even transportation as she was not allowed to live on campus. Her family began receiving threats and by the third day of class, an out-of-control mob appeared on campus swirling life threatening taunts at the new student. Keeping herself safe in a locked room and turning to prayer, she eventually had to be spirited off campus with police protection. The University barred her again from attending on the grounds that the school wasn’t safe for her. She once again involved the NAACP’s help. Members Thurgood Marshall and Arthur Shore issued a formal complaint to the school. It wasn’t until 1988 that the school lifted its expulsion. She opted to receive her Masters there attending the school the same time as her daughter and graduating in 1992 with a scholarship established in her honor.

Today we pay homage to Ms. Lucy for her tenacity and courage to see it through thus paving the way for young Black women who look like me.

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