I am Black History. I am Black excellence. I am Autherine Lucy, who was the first black student to attend the University of Alabama.

Pictured: Roy Wilkins and Thurgood Marshall (director and special counsel for NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund) in a press conference with Autherine Lucy.

I was born in Shiloh, Alabama. My father was a sharecropper, and I was the youngest child of the family of five sons and four daughters. After attending public school in Shiloh through grade ten, I attended Linden Academy in Linden, Alabama. I graduated in 1947 and went on to attend Selma University (a private historically black college) in Selma, Alabama, for two years, after which I studied at Mile College (a historically black college) in Fairfield, Alabama. I graduated from Miles with a bachelor of arts in English in 1952.

In September of 1952, I and a friend, Pollie Myers, a civil right activist with the NAACP, applied to the University of Alabama. We were accepted, but our admission was rescinded when the authorities discovered we were not white. Backed by NAACP, Myers and I charged the University of Alabama with racial discrimination in a court case that took almost three years to resolve. While waiting, I worked as an English teacher in Carthage, Mississippi, and as a secretary at an insurance company.

On June 29, 1955, the NAACP secured a court order preventing the University from rejecting the admissions applications of Lucy and Myers based upon their race. I was finally admitted to the University of Alabama but rejected Myers because a child she had conceived before marriage made her an unsuitable student. Later, the court amended the order to apply to all other African-American students seeking admission. On February 3, 1956, I enrolled as a graduate student in library science, becoming the first African-American ever admitted to a white public school or university in the state.

I attended my first classes on Friday, February 3, 1956. And on Monday, February 6, 1956, riots broke out on campus and a mob of more than a thousand men pelted the car in which the Dean of Woman drove me between classes. Threats were made against my life, and the president was stoned. The police were called to secure my admission. After the riots, the University suspended me from school because of my safety was a concern.

I and the NAACP filed contempt-of-court proceedings against the trustees and president of the University; against the dean of women for barring her from the dining hall and dormitories, and against four other men for participating in the riots. The federal courts ordered that I be reinstated after the university had taken adequate measures to protect me. When I was reinstated on February 29 by court order of the Birmingham Federal Court the university trustees met and expelled me permanently on a hastily contrived technicality. The university used the case as a justification for my permanent expulsion. University officials claimed that I had slandered the university, and they could not have me as a student.

The NAACP felt that further legal actions was pointless and did not contest this decision. For some months afterwards, I was a civil rights advocate, making speeches at NAACP meetings around the country. But by the end of the year, my active involvement in the civil rights movement ceased. For the next seventeen years, my family and I lived in various cities in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. My notoriety made it difficult for me to find employment as a teacher. My family moved back to Alabama in 1974, and I obtained a position in the Birmingham school system.

In April 1968, my expulsion was annulled by the University of Alabama. I enrolled in the graduate program in education the following year and received an M.A. degree in 1992. In the course of the commencement ceremonies, the University of Alabama named an endowed fellowship in my honor. There was also a portrait of me unveiled in the student union; the inscription reads “Her initiative and courage won the right for students of all races to attend the University.”

I am a sister of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.


Join HBCU Campaign Fund for Black History Month “I Am’s,” exhibiting the outstanding achievements of well-known Black individuals who has contributed to the Black community and beyond.

If you would like to contribute an “I Am” of your all-time favorite Black pioneer to be featured, you may e-mail your “I Am” to support@hbcucampaignfund.org.

PINE BLUFF, AR – Bestselling author, Hill-Harper-New-Book-Interview-Video.pngactor, and philanthropist Hill Harper will serve as the featured keynote speaker during the Black History Month Celebration program at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB). The event originally scheduled for Tuesday, February 2 @ 11:00 a.m. is rescheduled to this Monday, February 8 @ 10:30 a.m. in the Kenneth L. Johnson, Sr. HPER Complex on campus. This event is free and open to the general public.

Harper is best-known for the role of coroner-turned-crime scene investigator Dr. Sheldon Hawkes on CBS crime drama CSI: NY. He worked in the series for nine seasons. He also portrayed Leshem in the 2010 Syfy original movie Stonehenge Apocalypse.

Harper graduate magna cum laude from Brown University, he received a J.D. (cum laude) from Harvard Law School, as well as a master’s in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government. Haper founded the Manifest Your Destiny Foundation, a nonprofit outreach program for at-risk teens, and is also the author of multiple bestselling books, including “Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny”, an advice book for teens that won the American Library Association’s 2007 prize for Best Book for Young Adults, and the newly-released “Letters to an Incarcerated Brother: Encouragement, Hope and Healing for Inmates and Their Loved Ones.”

For more information about this event, contact UAPB’s Office of Student Involvement and Leadership at (870) 575-8866.

Source: https://uapbnews.wordpress.com/2016/02/02/black-history-program-rescheduled-for-february-8/

I am Black History. I am Black excellence. I am Mary McLeod Bethune, who was an educator and civil rights activist.

Mary McLeod Bethune with the graduating class of Literary and Industrial Training School in 1928.

I was born in 1875 in a small log cabin near Mayesville, South Carolina, on a rice and cotton farm. I was the fiftieth of seventeen children born to former slaves. I attended Mayesville one-room black schoolhouse, Trinity Mission School, which was run by the Presbyterian Board of Missions of Freedmen. I was the only child in my family to attend school; I walked five miles each day to and from school. My teacher, Emma Jane Wilson become a significant mentor in my life, she helped me attend Scotia Seminary (now Barber-Scotia College on scholarship from 1888to 1893. I graduated from Scotia Seminary in 1893.

After graduating from the seminary, I went to Dwight Moody’s Institute for Home and Foreign Missions (also know as Moody Institute) in Chicago, hoping to become a missionary in Africa. I completed my studies there two years later. Returning to the south, I began my career as a teacher.

For nearly a decade, I worked as an educator. I worked as a teacher briefly at my former elementary school in Sumter County. In 1896, I began teaching at Haines Normal and Industrial Institute in Augusta, Georgia. During this year, the National Association of Colored Women was formed to promote the needs of black women. I served as the Florida chapter president from 1917 to 1925. I was elected as national president in 1924. After one year at Haines, I was transferred by the Presbyterian mission to the Kindell Institute in Sumter, South Carolina, where I met my future husband. I married fellow teacher Albertus Bethune in 1898. We had one son together Albert McLeod Bethune before our marriage ended in 1907.

I believed that education provided the key to racial advancement. So I moved to Florida, determined to start a school for girls. I moved from Palatka to Daytona, because it had more economic opportunities. In October 1904, I rented a small house for $11.00 per month. I made benches and desks from discarded crates and acquired other items through charity. I used $1.50 to start the Literary and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls. I initially had six students, with five girls aged six to twelve, and my son Albert. Parents of the students and church members raised money by making sweet potato pies, ice cream, and fried fish, and selling them to crews at the Daytona dump.

In the early days, the students made ink for pens from elderberry juice, and pencils from burned wood. The school received donations of money, equipment, and labor from local black churches. Within’ a year, I was teaching more than 30 girls at the school. I also courted wealthy white organizations, such as the ladies’ Palmetto Club. I invited influential white men to sit on my school board of trustees, gaining participation by James Gamble (of Proctor & Gamble) and Thomas H. White (of White Sewing Machines).

Booker T. Washington of Tuskegee Institute visited in 1912; he advised me of the importance of gaining support by white benefactors for funding. I had met with Washington in 1896 and was impressed by his clout with his donors. As I traveled, I seek donations to keep my school operating. A donation of $62, 000 by John D. Rockefeller helped, as well as my friendship with Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife in the 1930s.

In 1930, President Herbert Hoover appointed me to the White House Conference on Child Health. In 1935, I founded the National Council of Negro Women in New York City, bringing together representatives of 28 different organizations to work to improve the lives of black women and their communities.

In 1931, the Methodist Church helped the merger of my school with the boys’ Cookman Institute, forming the Bethune-Cookman College, a coeducational junior college. I became president. Through the Great Depression, my school continued to operate and met the educational standards of the State of Florida. From 1936 to 1942, I cut back my time as president because of duties in Washington, D.C. Funding declined during that period of my absence. However, by 1941, the college had developed a four-year curriculum and achieved full college status. In 1942, I gave up my presidency, as my health was being adversely affected by my many responsibilities.

On May 18, 1955, I died of a heart attack. In 1973, I was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.


Join HBCU Campaign Fund for Black History Month “I Am’s,” exhibiting the outstanding achievements of well-known Black individuals who has contributed to the Black community and beyond.

If you would like to contribute an “I Am” of your all-time favorite Black pioneer to be featured, you may e-mail your “I Am” to support@hbcucampaignfund.org.