National Institute on Aging

In Memoriam: Beatrice Elizabeth Coleman, 1904-2014

BeatriceColemanHeadshotBeatrice Coleman, one of only seven Black students in the 1925 graduating class at Brown University, died at an assisted living facility in Providence, Rhode Island, earlier this month. She was 109 years old and at the time of her death was one of the oldest living graduates of the university.

The granddaughter of slaves, Coleman grew up in Providence. She wanted to attend Howard University in Washington but her family could not afford to send her to a college far from home. So she enrolled at Brown and lived at home as Black students were not permitted in Brown dormitories at that time. She graduated in 1925 with a degree in Latin and history and had a long career as a schoolteacher.

At her 109th birthday party last year, she played the Brown University alma mater on the piano.


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