Howard University Honors Its First Dean of Women

The 2400 block of 4th Street NW in Washington, D.C. has been renamed Lucy Diggs Slowe Way.

A native of Berryville, Virginia, Slowe did not earn her high school diploma until she was 21 years old. But she graduated as class valedictorian from Howard University in 1908 and went on to earn a master’s degree at Columbia University. She was the first Black woman to win a national title in any major sport and became a 17-time American Tennis Association champion. Additionally, she was a founder and first president of three national organizations, including Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority

Slowe helped to transform teaching and learning wherever she worked. As an educator, she taught in Baltimore, Maryland, before returning to Washington, D.C., where she created and led the District’s first junior high school while advocating for equity in higher education. Eventually, she joined the faculty at Howard University as the first dean of women in 1922.

Slowe died from kidney disease in 1937 at the age of 54.

“This is an incredible time in history where we have the opportunity to cement the legacy of Lucy Diggs Slowe into the landscape of our nation’s capital and Howard’s campus,” said Wayne A.I. Frederick, Howard University president. “She was a formidable leader who made a tremendous impact on the Howard University community and transformed the way we understand the role women play in impacting our society.”

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