They were all there for the ceremony!
The University of Georgia has dedicated a new building in honor of the first Black students to enroll and graduate from the school, 11 Alive reports.
Almost sixty years ago to the day, Harold Alonza Black, Mary Blackwell Diallo, and Kerry Rushin Miller would make history as the first African American students to enroll as freshmen at the University of Georgia (UGA).
Black was the first African American male freshman and first African American graduate of the Terry College of Business. Meanwhile, Diallo earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in French literature at UGA, going on to pursue her doctorate from Emory University. Last year, she retired after teaching at both Morehouse College and Florida A&M for decades. As for Miller, she was the first Black student to earn a bachelor’s in mathematics from UGA in 1966, settling into a successful and lucrative career in the telecommunications sector.
This week, the University reclaimed a bit of its long-ago history, renaming a new residence hall in honor of the former students. The Black-Diallo-Miller Hall is located on Baxter Street and is UGA’s newest student living quarters. The building will serve as housing for 525 first-year students this fall. All three former students were at the dedication ceremony which took place on the 60th anniversary of their enrollment.
While their journey as students at the time was not without its fair share of challenges, each student expressed deep gratitude for the honor.
“I would like to thank my family and friends who are here… I am so honored to have this building bear the name of Miller on it,” said Miller.
The building’s lobby holds portraits of all three honorees, their legacy officially cemented on the campus where they once broke barriers. Black said he hopes that when new students arrive at UGA, they will see those portraits and experience something completely different than what he and his peers did.
“It’s going to be almost 60 years to the day that I walked into Reed Hall as a freshman that freshmen will enter this building. I can guarantee you one thing: the atmosphere will be a lot warmer, a lot more welcoming than it was 60 years ago…It was an interesting time, an interesting experience, and I want to thank everyone past and present who helped make that possible,” said Black.
Congratulations to you all. Thank you for blazing a trail!
Photo Courtesy of UGA