University of Georgia honors trailblazing Black graduates with new dorm
A new six-story residence hall at the University of Georgia has been named in honor of three of its alumni who were the first Black freshmen to enroll in the state’s flagship university and earn their undergraduate degrees.
UGA’s first new hall in nearly a decade is located on Baxter Street in Athens. The $50 million building, named Black-Diallo-Miller Hall, opens this fall and pays tribute to Harold Alonza Black, Mary Blackwell Diallo, and Kerry Rushin Miller.
Sixty years ago, the trio began their college education at UGA as freshmen. UGA held a Thursday ceremony to dedicate the dorm, which will house 525 first-year students.
In his written statement, President Jere W. Morehead said, “The three alumni we are honoring today faced challenging circumstances when they were here as students in the 1960s, but each of them persevered and went on to earn their degrees and make significant contributions to our society throughout their lives and careers.”
After graduating from UGA the three went on to have successful professional careers.
Miller was the first African American to earn a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from UGA in 1966. She retired from BellSouth and has served in numerous community groups in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Diallo earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in French literature from UGA. With a doctorate she earned from Emory, she taught at Morehouse College and Florida A&M University.
Black, who graduated from UGA’s Terry College of Business and earned graduate degrees from Ohio State University, retired as a professor emeritus from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.
In looking back at the nearly six decades to the day that he entered his freshmen residence hall on UGA’s campus, Black issued a written statement saying, “I can guarantee you one thing: the atmosphere will be a lot warmer, a lot more welcoming than it was 60 years ago. It was an interesting time, an interesting experience, and I want to thank everyone past and present who helped make that possible.”
UGA has paid tribute to several of its early Black graduates through campus names including the Shirley Mathis McBay Science Library, the Mary Frances Early College of Education and the Holmes-Hunter Academic Building, named for Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter-Gault.