The first Black woman to graduate from the University of Georgia will receive a huge honor from her alma mater. According to UGA Today, in October the university will unveil a portrait of Mary Frances Early which will live inside of the institution’s Gordon Jones Gallery.
Early was a part of the university’s Class of 1962, the news outlet writes. She earned a master’s degree in music education. At UGA she encountered several racially charged experiences while pursuing her education. Her car was vandalized with a racial slur, other students threw food at her, some of her white classmates refused to sit near her and she lived in a dorm room by herself. Despite the negative experiences, she was determined to stay the course. One of the reasons that she decided to attend UGA was because she witnessed the efforts that the university’s first Black students Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter made to have racial equality on campus. She was inspired to break barriers for students who looked like her.
The school is excited about paying homage to Early and giving her credit that has been long overdue. “Mary Frances Early has been a source of inspiration for generations of students across the state of Georgia and beyond,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead in a statement. Early is humbled to be recognized by the university. The artwork—which is slated to be unveiled on October 10—was created by artist Richard Wilson.
Early has had a long career in the realm of education. She spent nearly four decades working in public schools and led courses at Clark Atlanta University, Spelman College, and Morehouse College. In January she was awarded UGA’s presidential medal.
Black trailblazers have been getting a lot of love from their alma maters. In August, NASA pioneer Katherine Johnson’s alma mater West Virginia State University honored her with a bronze statue and a scholarship fund named after her.