Framingham State University to Honor its First Black Graduate: Mary Miles Bibb

A dormitory at Framingham State University will soon be renamed in honor of the first African American woman to graduate from the institution. The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education has approved a proposal to rename North Hall in honor of Mary Miles Bibb. North Hall, a 410-bed residence hall built in 2011, is one of the university’s newest dormitories.

Bibb was born in Rhode Island in 1820 as Mary Elizabeth Miles. When she applied to Massachusetts State Normal School in Lexington, a precursor to the university, the school’s second director, Rev. Samuel J. May, threatened to resign if a divided board didn’t admit her.

After graduating in 1843, Bibb went on to become one of the first African American woman teachers on the continent. Bibb married escaped slave and fellow abolitionist Henry Bibb in 1847 and they moved to Sandwich, Canada, due to the enactment of the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850. There, she opened several schools for Black children during a 23-year teaching career. She also worked on the newspaper her husband founded, Voice of the Fugitive.

This isn’t the first time Framingham State University has honored Bibb. The university also established a teaching fellowship last year named after Bibb, awarded to a faculty member who has exhibited “sustained and passionate commitments to diversity and inclusion in teaching, scholarship, and/or service.”

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