A lasting legacy: Autherine Lucy Foster remembered as a trailblazer
No one knew last week’s building dedication ceremony would also be a final farewell from University of Alabama trailblazer Autherine lucy Foster. The 92-year-old charmed hundreds less than one week ago at the College of Education building’s name dedication in her honor after she was the first Black person to attend the university.
UA President Stuart Bell said Foster’s impact isn’t limited to the past.
“She was brave,” Bell said. “She was an icon. She also had such great kindness. And the way she wore all of that with such grace is just remarkable.”
UA Board of Trustees retiree Judge John England has accomplished a lot of “firsts” in his lifetime, too. He was one the first Black law students admitted to UA, the first Black city council member in Tuscaloosa, and the first African American elected to a countywide position in Tuscaloosa County. None of that would have been possible without people like Foster, he said.
“Over the many years I have known of her and had a chance to meet her, I’ve considered her as one of my heroes,” England said. “Someone that I am standing on the shoulders of.”
Foster was the first African American student enrolled at the University of Alabama before she was expelled after three days. For her own safety, the university said at the time. She went on to earn her bachelor’s degree from Miles College and became an educator. In her final days, she left us all one last lesson.
“What I hope I am teaching you is that love will take care of everything in our world,” Foster said the Friday before her death. “It does not depend on what color we are. That’s what I want to teach. It is not your color. It is not how bright you are, it’s about how you feel about those who you deal with. I hope that’s all I can teach.”