Last week, the beginning of Black History month coincided with an important date in the history of the University of Alabama. On February 3, 1956, Autherine Lucy of Birmingham became the first African-American to enroll at the University of Alabama, as a graduate student in Library Science. Lucy’s time at the college was cut short after just 3 days, when a hostile mob assembled to prevent her from attending classes. That evening, The University suspended Lucy on the grounds that it could not provide her with a safe environment. Following a law suit to have the suspension overturned, the University expelled Lucy permanently.
The University finally overturned Lucy’s expulsion in 1980, and in 1992 she earned a Masters Degree in Elementary Education from UA. Lucy is now honored on UA’s campus with her portrait in the student center with the inscription “Her initiative and courage won the right for stuudents of all races to attend the university,” as well as the Autherine Lucy Clock Tower in the Malone-Hood Plaza outside of Foster Auditorium.
Below are the front pages of the university newspaper, the Crimson White, from February 7, 1956, and February 14, 1956. Click on the images to find the entire issues, where you can read about Lucy’s first day of classes and the violent mob that led to her suspension.