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“Famous Firsts: Institutional Uses of Early Minority Matriculation”

When Mar 02, 2016
from 04:30 PM to 06:00 PM
Where 216 Willard Building
Contact Phone 814-863-4243
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Ebony ColetuTalk by Ebony Coletu

Assistant Professor of English

Calvin Waller (‘05) and Mildred Bunton (‘32) are cited as the first African American graduates of Pennsylvania State University. This attribution was constructed decades later in an effort to emphasize a longer history of minority presence prior to formal desegregation, to advertise a fund for scholarships, and attract donations from African American alumni of Penn State. This talk places Waller and Bunton in a broader frame of colleges and universities that recover ‘famous firsts’ decades after matriculation in ways that revalue their presence into what I call “biographic currency” for the institution. The ‘famous first’ performs multiple institutional functions and in this talk I will explore the four effects of reclaiming early minority matriculants.

Department of African American Studies, The Pennsylvania State University
133 Willard Building, University Park, PA 16802
Ph: 814-863-4243 | Fax: 814-863-3578 | Email: