FAIRFIELD, Ala. (WBRC) - Miles College honored Autherine Lucy Foster, an alumna and the first African-American to enroll and attend the University of Alabama, with an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.
The ceremony for the 1952 graduate was held Wednesday in the Brown Hall Auditorium.
“It is with great honor that we award Mrs. Foster with an honorary degree from the same college she graduated decades ago,” said Bobbie Knight, President of Miles College.
“We recognize and embrace the significant contribution she has made in America’s history, and we believe she embodies the true spirit of a Milean. In honoring her with this degree, we are expressing our appreciation, and we are sending a message to our student body that following one’s dreams, against all odds, leads to great things,” said Knight.
Foster is a retired educator who became the first African-American student to desegregate the University of Alabama. Born on October 5, 1929, in Shiloh, Alabama, Foster attended Miles College and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in English in 1952.
Foster enrolled in the all-white University of Alabama in 1956 but was expelled from the university because threats were made against her life, and riots broke out in resistance to her presence on campus.
Years later, the university officially annulled the expulsion, and Foster enrolled in the graduate program in Education, where she was honored and given a standing ovation when she walked across the stage at graduation.
“Mrs. Autherine Lucy Foster is a living legend and trailblazer. Her courage as a young adult and throughout her life is evidence of faith, tenaciousness and determination. We are all beneficiaries of the sacrifices she made to breakdown racial barriers in education,” said Bishop Theresa Jefferson-Snorton, Chairman, Miles College Board of Trustees.