The Taylor-Williams Carolina Scholarship attracted senior Sherrod Crum to UNC-Chapel Hill and has helped him focus on his passion for social entrepreneurship that serves underrepresented communities.
- 1951Carolina's first Black students enroll at the UNC School of Law
- 1955Leroy Frasier, John Lewis Brandon and Ralph Frasier become the first Black undergraduates at Carolina.
- 1955Oscar Diggs becomes the first African American doctor of medicine from the University.
- 1963Karen Parker enrolls, becoming the first African American undergraduate woman at Carolina.
- 1966Hortense McClinton becomes the first African American faculty member to be hired at Carolina.
- 1967Led by Preston Dobbins and Reggie Hawkins, Carolina students found the Black Student Movement.
When they set foot on campus in 1951, these pioneers broke down barriers for the generations of students who followed. Their courageous examples moved UNC-Chapel Hill closer to the ideal of the University of the people.
Harvey Beech, James Lassiter, J. Kenneth Lee, Floyd McKissick and James Robert Walker enrolled in the UNC School of Law in 1951, following a court order that said the Law School must admit black students. They became the first African American students at Carolina. After they enrolled, other graduate and professional schools at Carolina began admitting African American students.
The same legal ruling that opened the door for Carolina’s first African American law students also made way for Oscar Diggs, in 1951, to become the first African American to attend Carolina’s medical school. Diggs graduated in 1955, becoming the first African American doctor of medicine from the University.
By the mid-1950s, black students were admitted to the College of Arts & Sciences.
When Karen Parker arrived at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1963, she was the first African American undergraduate woman to enroll at the University. At Carolina, she continued to fight for her rights while earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
As a student, Parker kept a diary of her experiences at Carolina, including descriptions of her arrests on campus. Parker donated the diary to the Southern Historical Collection of UNC Libraries in 2006.
McClinton was the first Black professor hired at Carolina, accepting an appointment with the UNC School of Social Work in 1966 and retiring in 1984. During her time on faculty, McClinton regularly taught courses on casework, human development, family therapy and institutional racism.
During her years on faculty, McClinton also helped to establish the predecessor organization to the Carolina Black Caucus and worked with various units on campus to improve services for students with disabilities.
The work hasn’t stopped with these trailblazers and history makers. Today’s Tar Heels are continuing the traditions of Carolina's Black pioneers by working toward a more inclusive and stronger future that is propelling the University and communities forward.
Whether it’s through amplifying the voices of underrepresented students, shining a light on culture, conducting crucial research or creating new opportunities for others to thrive, current students and faculty are continuing to break down barriers and pave the way for new generations.
Ronice Johnson-Guy, a first-generation undergraduate and graduate student, joined The Graduate School’s Diversity and Student Success program to build community among students who come from a variety of life experiences and backgrounds.
Double Tar Heel Cortland Gilliam ‘14 has been named the Town of Chapel Hill’s second poet laureate. The UNC School of Education doctoral candidate is a scholar, educator, cultural organizer and now, the Town’s official poet. Gilliam’s love for poetry and passion for community organizing grew out of his struggle to find and use his voice while navigating the experience of being a Black student at a historically white university.
The Tar Heels behind Carolina's Black in Technology student organization are working to increase the representation of Black students pursuing degrees in technology at UNC-Chapel Hill by building an inclusive ecosystem for Black technology majors to thrive.
Carolina students are helping the Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History curate oral histories from members of Black communities in southern Orange County.
Growing up, Derek Brown witnessed disparities caused by economic and racial barriers. Now he’s committed to finding solutions for some of America’s very real problems.