Her desire to get a second undergraduate degree was cut short after just three days when a mob of racists assaulted her with food, rocks and other objects when she tried to enter college. University of Alabama.
Autherine Lucy Foster, who earned a bachelor’s degree in English from historic Black Miles College in 1952, and whose legal battle with the University of Alabama ended two years after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education, died at age 92.
A critical, but sometimes overlooked, figure in the civil rights movement, Foster’s case became the first to challenge the Brown decision that allowed federal judges to implement the landmark decision.
In 1992, Foster recalled her experience in an interview with The New York Times.
“It was kind of like you weren’t really a human being. But if it hadn’t been for some in college, my life might not have been spared at all,” he said. said Foster.
“I expected to find isolation. I thought I could survive this. But I didn’t expect him to go this far. There were students behind me saying, ‘Let’s kill her! Let’s kill her!”
Foster visited Tuscaloosa a week before her death, cutting the ribbon for the new College of Education building, where she took refuge from the racist mob.
Formerly known as Bibb Graves Hall, the university building adopted a new name called Autherine Lucy Hall.
“My team was proud to celebrate the courage and sacrifice of Dr. Autherine Lucy Foster by presenting her with a congressional record,” said Alabama Democratic Representative Terri Sewell.
“The nomination of the University of Alabama’s Autherine Lucy Hall will be a powerful reminder of her sacrifice in the name of justice and fairness for all.”
Foster “was the epitome of courage,” said Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, who chairs the organization.
“As the first black student to attend the University of Alabama, her pioneering determination paved the way for a more inclusive and equitable higher education system in Alabama. Her life was a testimony to the power of compassion and grace in the face of unyielding adversity. We are all made better by his example.
Many more tweeted and offered statements of condolence. Foster’s family requested confidentiality, but they released a statement about the pioneer.
“She was known, honored and respected around the world after crossing the color barrier at the University of Alabama,” her daughter Chrystal Foster said in a statement.
“She died at home, surrounded by her family. We are deeply saddened, but we realize that she left a proud legacy.
STacy M. Brown is the NNPA Newswire principal national correspondent.