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Lucy, Autherine Juanita (1930—)

Lucy, Autherine Juanita (1930—)

African-American civil-rights activist . Born in 1930.

A nearly forgotten name in the modern civil-rights movement is that of Autherine Juanita Lucy, who was the first African-American to attempt to integrate the University of Alabama. A 1952 graduate of Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama, Lucy hoped to pursue a graduate degree in library science at the University of Alabama. Assisted by the NAACP, she eventually won a federal lawsuit that required the university to admit her. On February 3, 1956, as she was riding to class with the dean of women, rioters, numbering close to 1,000, stormed her car and later threatened the campus home of the president. Three days later, the university suspended her, citing her safety as the reason. Undaunted, Lucy went back to court and with the help of NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall, who later became the first African-American justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, she succeeded in having her enrollment upheld. In March, however, the university trumped up a technical violation of school rules and expelled her. Neither the NAACP nor Marshall pursued the case further, but Lucy would not be deterred. She returned to the University of Alabama in 1989 and earned a master's degree in education in 1992.


"This Week in Black History," in Jet. February 8, 1999.

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