Albany State University Awards Honorary Degrees to 32 Former Students

At its fall commencement exercises, Albany State University awarded honorary degrees to 32 students who were expelled from the university in 1961 for participating in civil rights protests against Jim Crow racial segregation. Hank Huckaby, chancellor of the University of Georgia system stated, “The University System recognizes the unique nature of the situation that occurred at Albany State 50 years ago and applauds the university for paying tribute to these former students.”

A full history of the movement can be found here.

Bernice Johnson Reagon, professor of history emerita at American University and one of the Albany State students involved in the 1961 protests, gave the commencement address and was awarded an honorary doctorate. After leaving Albany State, Reagon went on to earn a bachelor’s degree at Spelman College and a Ph.D. in history at Howard University.


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  1. Necessary reckoning with academe’s troubled apolitical past. NO better choice than Dr. Johnson Reagon to articulate (as I am sure she did) the need for continued pressing of our institutions’ support of human rights.

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