This past Friday, Autherine Lucy Foster, the first African-American student to enroll in The University of Alabama, received an honorary doctoral degree at the school’s commencement ceremony, reports AL.com.
Foster, 89, originally applied to the university in 1952 after earning an English Degree from Miles College earlier that year. However, her acceptance was denied because of her race. A few years later, a federal court reversed that decision and Foster was able to enroll in UA in 1956. But, after attending classes for just three days, she was asked to leave the campus due to riots and threats against her life.
In 1988, her dismissal from the university was annulled, opening the door for her to return to campus and graduate with a master’s degree in education from UA in 1991, alongside her daughter.
“I love The University of Alabama, and it is an honor to be recognized in this way,” Foster tells the university’s website. “I am thankful for opportunities such as this, which allow us to talk about the past while looking to the future.”
As a leader in helping to desegregate the institution, Foster has been recognized with a pair of endowed scholarships and two landmarks on campus. She also is listed as a University of Alabama Legend and was inducted into the UA Student Life Hall of Fame.
“It’s truly a privilege to award Mrs. Foster with an honorary degree from The University of Alabama,” the university’s president Stuart R. Bell said in a statement. “Her tenacious spirit, gracious heart for helping others and her unfailing belief in the value of education and human rights positions Mrs. Foster as a meaningful example of what one can achieve in the face of adversity.”