St. Cloud State University in Minnesota Names Building After Its First Black Graduate

St. Cloud State University in Minnesota has announced that it is naming a building on campus to honor Ruby Cora Webster, the educational institution’s first African American graduate. The structure now known simply as 51 Building, houses the departments of English, political science and ethnic and women’s studies.

Webster was born in 1889 in Delphos, Ohio. Her parents were former slaves. At some point during her childhood the family moved to St. Cloud, Minnesota, and she attended St. Cloud High School. At the time, there were perhaps 20 African Americans in a town of several thousand residents.

After graduating from high school, Webster enrolled in what was then called St. Cloud Normal School and earned a degree in elementary education. The 1910 U.S. Census listed her occupation as a teacher but there are no known records of when or where she taught.

Webster married twice and had a daughter. She moved the Kansas City and later to Canada. She died in 1974.

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  1. The university did not decide on its own to name the building after an African American, they were persuaded to act by people from the school who should receive credit for their efforts.

  2. Thank you so much for your coverage of the building’s renaming process. I organized the drive for the renaming, and I am very humbled and honored to see the new name reported here.

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