On February 25, 1960, a group of Black students at Alabama State University in Montgomery participated in a sit-in at a racially segregated lunch counter at the Montgomery County Courthouse. Twenty-nine students were arrested and nine were expelled from the university.
Fifty years later in 2010, the university reinstated the nine expelled students. Three were awarded honorary degrees at the university’s 2010 commencement.
Current Alabama State University President Quinton T. Ross Jr. spent 15 years in the Alabama State Legislature before taking over the leadership of the university in 2017. He petitioned the state legislature and the governor to expunge the records from state archives. He was informed that the authority to do so rested with the State Board of Education.
At his last meeting as superintendent of the State Board of Education last month, Ed Richardson expunged the records of all students who had been disciplined as a result of the sit-in protest. He also expunged all documents pertaining to the firing of university faculty members who worked with students to organize the protest.
“Alabama State University was at the very center of the Civil Rights Movement and its students, faculty and staff laid their education, jobs and, in many cases, their lives on the line to ensure that black Americans gained their basic rights,” President Ross said. “Those who lost their jobs or academic status because of their participation in the historic sit-in at the Montgomery County Courthouse are national heroes who deserved to have their records expunged.”