Friday, October 5, 2007

Birthday Shout Outs!

Autherine Juanita Lucy


Autherine Juanita Lucy was born in the small farming community of Shiloh, Alabama, on October 5, 1929. The youngest of ten children, Juanita, as she preferred to be called, grew up on the 110-acre farm maintained by her parents, Minnie Hosea Lucy and Milton Cornelius Lucy. Like her siblings, Lucy was no stranger to hard work and helped her family pick cotton and harvest crops. However, she was a bit awkward and often fell behind the others. She was also very shy, giving no inkling of the civil rights pioneer she would become…

In February of 1956, just months after the Supreme Court had ruled against segregation in Brown v. the Board of Education, Autherine Lucy enrolled as the first black student at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Her arrival on campus came after years of court battles by the NAACP on her behalf. However, the roots of segregation and racism were too strong for the law to break, much less a shy young woman reared on a rural farm. Angry mobs chased Lucy from campus only three days after her arrival. A month later she was expelled from the university. Though a student for less than a week, Lucy's time at the University of Alabama was an important milestone in the civil rights movement. Historian Nora Sayre wrote in Previous Convictions, "The Autherine Lucy case became a symbolic battlefield for those who were determined to maintain segregation and those who had resolved to eradicate it." Today, with the largest percentage of black students of all the Southern universities, the University of Alabama owes much to the legacy of Autherine Lucy Foster.

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