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Expelled in 1956, First Black Student at University of Alabama Earns Honorary Doctorate

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The University of Alabama honored Autherine Lucy Foster, the first African-American student to attend the University of Alabama, with an honorary doctorate degree Friday, May 3.

Lucy Foster, 89, initially applied to Alabama in 1952 after earning a degree in English from Miles College that same year. However, her acceptance was rescinded because she was not white, the university said in a press release. A federal court order later reversed that decision, and Foster enrolled at Alabama in 1956. The blueprint for contemporary diversity and inclusion was laid out when Foster attended classes for just three days in 1956 and was later removed from campus due to riots and threats against her life.

“I love The University of Alabama, and it is an honor to be recognized in this way,” Autherine Lucy Foster said in a statement. “I am thankful for opportunities such as this, which allow us to talk about the past while looking to the future.”

Foster earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Alabama in 1991, more than 35 years after attending her first class.