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Some of the Notable 'First' African Americans at the University of Cincinnati


The first African American to receive a doctoral degree from Harvard University was W.E.B. Du Bois, in 1895. Who was the first African American to receive a doctoral degree from the University of Cincinnati?

Date: 2/5/2007 12:00:00 AM
By: Wendy Beckman
Phone: (513) 556-1826

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If you guessed Darwin T. Turner, you’re mistaken. Turner, in 1947 at age 16, was the youngest person ever to graduate from UC with a bachelor’s degree. He became one of the pre-eminent literary scholars in the country after receiving his doctoral degree from the University of Chicago. UC presented Turner an honorary doctorate in 1983, established a scholarship program in his honor after his death in 1991 and later named a residence hall for him.

William Parham, College of Law, was the first African-American graduate of the University of Cincinnati in 1874.

Research biologist and educator Charles Henry Turner, who received his master’s in 1892, was the first African American to earn a graduate degree (of any kind) at UC.

In 1928, Jennie Davis Porter became the first African-American woman to earn a PhD at UC. She received national acclaim for her educational methods as principal of Cincinnati’s Stowe School.

Lucy Oxley received an MD and became the first African-American graduate of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in 1935. When Dr. Oxley was denied an internship at the Cincinnati General Hospital, she became an intern at Freedman’s Hospital in Washington, DC. In 1940, she returned to Cincinnati and established a private practice.

Appointed to the Ohio State Medical Board in 1980, Dr. Oxley served seven years. She received the Ohio Academy of Family Physician’s “Physician of the Year Award” in 1984. She was runner-up for the national 1985-86 Family Doctor of the Year Award.

Clark E. Beck was the first African American to receive a graduate degree in engineering from the University of Cincinnati. During a 30-year career at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, he participated in many cutting-edge endeavors. Among other projects, he was involved in evaluating Kevlar before it became widely used in bullet-proof vests.

By the way, Ralph Belsinger was the first African-American athlete at UC (track and field, 1911–1915).

Take a quiz on UC’s history, including many of its African-American alumni and faculty .


 



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