Vanderbilt University Law School Honors Its First Black Graduates

This past Friday, Vanderbilt University celebrated the 50th anniversary of the racial integration of its law school. In 1957 Frederick Taylor Work and Edward Melvin Porter Sr. enrolled at the Vanderbilt University Law School. According to the law school, they were the first African Americans to enroll at a private law school in the southern states.

Work grew up on the campus of Fisk University where both his parents served on the faculty. After graduating from Vanderbilt Law School he moved to Gary, Indiana, where he was an attorney for the city government. He later opened a private practice in the city.

Porter is a graduate of Tennessee State University where he was student body president. After graduating from Vanderbilt Law School he opened a practice in Oklahoma City. There he served two terms as president of the local chapter of the NAACP. He also served three terms in the Oklahoma state Senate.

Both Work and Porter spoke at Vanderbilt this past weekend during the celebration honoring their achievement.