National Institute on Aging

College of William and Mary Honors Its First Black Residential Students

The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, was founded in 1693 and is the second oldest college in the United States. Slaves were used to construct buildings on the college campus. For more than 250 years after the college was founded, black students were not permitted to enroll. When they were permitted to enroll, they were not allowed to live on campus.

In 1967 the only students who were enrolled at the college were part-timers or graduate students and they did not live on campus. But in the fall of 1967 Lynn Briley, Karen Ely, and Janet Brown Strafer became the first African-American students to live in campus residence halls. They all graduated in 1971. Recently, the College of William and Mary honored these African-American trailblazers.

Upon the 40th anniversary of their graduation, the college brought the three women to campus for a celebration of their historic milestone. Fanchon Glover, assistant to the president for diversity and community initiatives explained why the college celebrated the anniversary: “We can’t afford for our children and your children and grandchildren to come here and not know that this place was forever changed when these three women came to William and Mary.”

Janet Brown Strafer, Karen Ely, and Lynn Briley


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