Autherine Lucy Foster will forever be known for taking the courageous first steps that would make The University of Alabama whole. Her initiative won the legal right for students of all races to attend the institution, thereby making the Capstone a true servant of democracy.
Her coursework toward a graduate degree in library science began Feb. 3, 1956. Because of significant unrest on campus and fear for her safety, her initial enrollment only lasted three days. Foster instead graduated with her bachelor’s degree in English in 1952 from Miles College.
Even so, Foster never gave up her dream of earning a UA degree. She reenrolled at the Capstone in 1988, taking summer classes and eventually earning a master’s in education in 1992. Upon her graduation, the University honored Foster with a portrait of her that hangs in the Ferguson Center’s Hall of Fame. Graduation day was a special one for the Foster family, as Foster’s daughter, Grazia, earned a bachelor’s in finance the same day.
Foster’s legacy on campus has continued to grow since she earned her graduate degree. In 1992, UA officials announced the formation of an endowed scholarship to be called the Autherine Lucy Foster Endowed Scholarship, which is awarded to an African-American undergraduate student at the Capstone each year by the Black Faculty and Staff Association.
In 2010, The University of Alabama further honored Foster by dedicating the Autherine Lucy Clock Tower, which stands prominently and proudly in Malone-Hood Plaza at the entrance to Foster Auditorium. The open arches of the clock tower mirror the architecture of Foster Auditorium and illustrate the opportunities available to all Alabamians because of Foster’s courage.
Born in Shiloh, Ala., as the youngest of 10 children, Foster will forever be known for the persistence she displayed in order to achieve her dreams — dreams that opened doors for students of all races at The University of Alabama.