Alabama honors first Black student with building name change

Autherine Lucy Foster

The University of Alabama is honoring its first African American by adding her name to a building on campus.

Feb. 3, 2022, is the 66th anniversary of Autherine Lucy Foster’s first day attending the college, and the UA System Board of Trustees chose this day to rename Graves Hall to Lucy-Graves Hall in Foster’s honor. The building houses the UA College of Education.

The change came after a recommendation from the board’s Building Names Working Group, which started up in 2020 to review the system’s building names, structures and spaces.

“I am so grateful to all who think that this naming opportunity has the potential to motivate and encourage others to embrace the importance of education, and to have the courage to commit to things that seek to make a difference in the lives of others,” Foster said Thursday.

Foster first enrolled as a graduate student at UA on Feb. 3, 1956, after earning a bachelor’s degree in English from Miles College several years earlier. She attended classes for three days before she was removed from campus because of riots and threats.

She returned several decades later and earned her master’s degree in elementary education in 1991, and the university awarded her an honorary doctoral degree in 2019.

“Dr. Autherine Lucy Foster is a continuing testament to courage, tenacity and compassion,” said Judge John H. England Jr., trustee emeritus and chair of the Building Names Working Group. “Her bravery opened the door for students of all races at The University of Alabama to achieve their dreams. We are honored to recognize her lasting legacy.”

Foster’s legacy is already recognized on campus through the Autherine Lucy Clock Tower located in front of Foster Auditorium, two endowed scholarships and Lucy’s Legacy, a living-learning community for women interested in exploring the historical significance and experiences of women of color at UA.

Categories: Local News