TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - Autherine Lucy Foster can read emotion on faces as easily as some people read books.
So when she, the first black student to enroll at the University of Alabama, was asked about returning to campus to be honored during graduation ceremonies, she vividly remembers the looks on faces of most people then compared to today.
“I wasn’t crying, but tears was just rolling down my eyes because it’s just so different and so unique for me to be able to come back to such a university as this,” Foster said.
In 1956, Foster attended classes for only three days at Alabama until she was removed due to threats against her life and riots.
Things have changed for better in 2019.
“The difference is the crowds are here. I see laughing faces instead of people frowning and displeased with me being here,” she continued.
Foster got a warm welcome during her return to the University Friday.
“As we rode across campus today, I said gee whiz this is a blessing in disguise to see the university permitting me to come back here and be involved in whatever they want to do today,” Foster explained.
She received applause and a standing ovation at times as officials presented her with a Doctor of Humane Letters at the beginning of graduation ceremonies.
Autherine Lucy Foster remains humble.
“I feel elated. Somewhat embarrassed because I don’t feel exactly worthy of what I’m getting. But I’m going to thank them and act as if I can,” she continued.
Autherine Lucy Foster earned a master’s degree in education from the university in 1991 more than 35 years after attending her first class at Alabama.