Georgia Southern University Honors Its First African American Students

Georgia Southern University in Statesboro has unveiled a new historical marker honoring the Black students who racially integrated the university in the mid-1960s. The marker, shown in the accompanying photograph, was placed on Sweetheart Circle in front of the Marvin Pittman Administration Building.

John Bradley was the first African American student at Georgia Southern University in January 1965. Six other Black students entered the university in the fall of 1965. One of these six, Catherine Davis, was a sophomore transfer student. She later became the first Black student to earn a degree at Georgia Southern University.

Jaimie Hebert, president of Georgia Southern University, stated that “the marker will serve as a constant reminder of the bravery and perseverance of our first African-American students, and the community they built. Their work was the foundation upon which this university built its mission — integrity, civility, kindness, collaboration, and a commitment to lifelong learning, wellness, and social responsibility.”

African-American student enrollment at Georgia Southern University gradually increased through the 1970s and 80s and dramatically grew in the 1990s to above 25 percent. Today, African Americans make up 26 percent of the 18,000-member undergraduate student body.


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