Gary Cosby Jr./The Tuscaloosa News/via AP/File
Autherine Lucy Foster, the first black student to enroll at the University of Alabama, has died. She was 92 years old.
University officials announced his death in a statement. Her daughter, Angela Foster Dickerson, said her mother died Wednesday morning.
“The UA community is deeply saddened by the passing of our friend, Dr. Autherine Lucy Foster,” said UA President Dr. Stuart R. Bell. “As we mourn the loss of a legend who embodied love, integrity and a spirit of determination,
— The Univ. of Alabama (@UofAlabama) March 2, 2022
Foster in 1956 briefly took classes at the then all-white university. She was deported three days later after her presence sparked protests and threats to her life. Foster, a graduate student in education, had faced hostile mobs hurling racist threats and debris.
The university then celebrated Foster’s legacy, his role in desegregating the institution, and his bravery.
Her death comes less than a week after university officials dedicated the campus building where she briefly attended classes in her honor. During the ceremony, she was also proclaimed a “master teacher”.
“If I’m a master teacher, what I hope to teach you is that love will take care of everything in our world, don’t you think,” Foster said at the dedication ceremony the week last.
“It’s not your color. It’s not how bright you are. It’s how you feel about those you deal with,” Foster said.
In 2019, she received an honorary doctorate from the university, where she had returned and obtained a master’s degree in education in 1992.
“Dr. Foster will be remembered as someone who broke down barriers, reminded us of the respect due to every individual, and lived a life of strength in service to his students and his community,” said the president of the university, Stuart R. Bell, in a statement.
After criticism, administrators scrapped a plan for the building to also retain the name of a former governor who led the Ku Klux Klan and rename it solely for Foster. Rather than Lucy-Graves Hall, the classroom building will be known as Autherine Lucy Hall, trustees have decided.
Foster’s family wanted to use her maiden name since she was known as Autherine Lucy while originally on campus.
After Foster left campus in the 1950s, African American students did not return to campus until 1963, when Governor George Wallace made his infamous stand outside the school gate.