This spring the University of Miami will sponsor a series of events commemorating the 50th anniversary of its racial desegregation. The program is entitled “Celebrating Unity in Diversity.”
In January 1961, the board of trustees of the University of Miami voted to admit students “regardless of race, creed, or color.” The university had a long history of admitting students of color from Caribbean and Latin American countries but up to that time, African Americans were not considered for admission. In the summer of 1961 the first Black students enrolled at the university and over the course of the first year, 75 African American students matriculated at the University of Miami. In 1962, Benny O’Berry became the first Black student to earn a degree at the University of Miami. The first Black faculty member, Whittington B. Johnson, a professor of history, was hired in 1970.
Today, the University of Miami has one of the most diverse student bodies in the nation. Nearly half of all students are Hispanic, Asian Americans or African American. One in eight students are from foreign nations. Minorities make up 36 percent of the faculty at the University of Miami.