The First Black Graduate of the University of Vermont
March 16, 2014 8:04 PM   Subscribe

For a while, the first African American graduate of the University of Vermont was George Washington Henderson, who would become the first black inductee to Phi Beta Kappa. Except he wasn't the first black graduate...

As it turns out, Andrew Harris had graduated from UVM 35 years earlier. "[Harris] graduates in 1838 and he is the first to be an ardent abolitionist... Yet UVM hasn't remembered him at all," while Henderson, among other things, is the namesake of "UVM's first ever espresso bar."

Current students of color recently organized flash mobs to show that "#wearenotinvisible", and one graduate has written a Buzzfeed listicle titled "42 Signs You Were A Minority at a Predominantly White University. The University of Vermont has an overall population of less than 20% students of color (PDF), in the second whitest state in the nation.
posted by papayaninja (8 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Students and Professor Thornton, from the VPR story, are organizing and pressuring the university to recognize Andrew Harris in a more substantial way.
posted by papayaninja at 8:05 PM on March 16, 2014

Yale also recently revised its idea of its first black graduate, moving the date back from 1874 to 1857.
posted by Nelson at 8:26 PM on March 16, 2014

Tangentially relatedish: apparently Chicago, 45% white, has public school enrollment that's only 9% white. I assume all the rest of the white kids go to private school. Crazy.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:44 PM on March 16, 2014

UVM getting to anywhere near 20% minory students is something when you consider that the state is 96% white. Vermont is very white. Very very white. It's not just the snow.
posted by maryr at 8:49 PM on March 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

In other news, that Buzzfeed article features a truly terrible Business Cat. SHAME.
posted by maryr at 8:49 PM on March 16, 2014

Five fresh fish...I live in New Orleans and I don't have the exact % for Caucasian public school attendance but i'd guess it's pretty damn close to that number. I wonder how much of a trend this is in American cities with similar demographics?
posted by NervousVarun at 3:01 AM on March 17, 2014

I went to UVM nearly 20 years ago, and there's no way it was even approaching 20% students of color at that point. Maybe 10% tops. It's pretty impressive that they've increased student body diversity to that degree. As stated by maryr above, VT is very, very white.
posted by brand-gnu at 6:02 AM on March 17, 2014

Here are a couple articles about Harris, if you are unable to listen to the VPR story.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:16 AM on March 17, 2014

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