In Memoriam: Autherine Juanita Lucy Foster, 1929-2022

Autherine Lucy, who in 1956 was the first African American to enroll at the University of Alabama, died on March 2. She was 92 years old. Her death came a little more than a week after the University of Alabama had renamed a building in her honor.

Lucy was a native of Shiloh, Alabama, and the daughter of sharecroppers. She attended Selma University and after two years transferred to Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English in 1952.

After her graduation, Lucy applied to the graduate program in education at the University of Alabama. She was initially accepted but later was rejected because of her race. After a three-year legal battle, she was admitted to the university by court order. In 1956, Lucy enrolled in a graduate program in education at the university. Angry protests by White students ensued. She was suspended three days later “for her own safety” and she was later expelled.

In 1988, the university officially annulled her expulsion. The next year she re-enrolled at the University of Alabama with her daughter, Grazia. Lucy earned a master’s degree in elementary education in 1991.

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