Woman receives honorary doctorate at 89; accepts honor in tears

Woman receives honorary doctorate at 89; accepts honor in tears

First African-American woman to attend the University of Alabama, Lucy Foster, has made history again after receiving an honorary doctorate from the university at the age of 89.

Autherine Lucy Foster, the first African-American woman to be admitted at the University of Alabama has been honoured with a doctorate degree last Friday, May 3, 2019, from the university where she received a heroine’s reception.

She was first admitted at the university in 1956. Local news reported that the 89-year-old received the degree during the school's graduation ceremony.

She enrolled at the university at a time when the university was dominated by whites. But she was later expelled three days after her presence brought protest and threats against her life.

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Prior to receiving the honor, she commented on the difference in seeing smiling faces ‘‘instead of frowning and displeased at my being here.’’

"I sat down last night, and when I thought about it, I was crying. The tears were just rolling down my eyes because it is so different and so unique for me to be able to come to such a university as this. That is a wonderful campus out there,'' Foster said.

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She received a loud standing ovation Friday for her speech. After daring to enroll at an all-white university in 1956, it didn’t go beyond a week before she got expelled.

Foster had first applied to the university in 1952 after earning a degree in English from Miles College. However her acceptance was revoked because she was not white.

It took her a while before she returned to campus in 1963. She earned a master's degree in education from the university in 1991, more than 35 years after attending her first class.

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She waited until 1992 to graduate to share the moment with her daughter, who is also a UA alumna. The university acknowledged Foster in 2017 with a historic marker in front of Graves Hall which houses the college of education. The university also named the clock tower at Malone Hood Plaza after her.

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Recently, media mogul Mo Abudu was awarded with a doctorate degree by the University of Westminister.

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