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2016 Charleston Lecture in Southern Affairs by Joseph Bathanti
November 17, 2016 @ 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm
In 1944, Alma Stone Williams, an African American musician from Atlanta, Georgia, attended Black Mountain College for its eleven-week summer session. She already held degrees from Atlanta University and Spelman College (where she had graduated as valedictorian), but that summer she became the first black student to attend Black Mountain College. This occurred ten years before Brown vs. Board of Education and twelve years before Autherine Lucy, another African American woman, matriculated in 1956 at the University of Alabama for a mere three days. While Lucy is generally credited as the first African American student to attend an all-white college in the Jim Crow South, it appears that Williams initially cracked that barrier. After Black Mountain College, Williams attended Julliard on a Rosenwald Fellowship, then launched a distinguished career as a musician, professor, and community leader. Joseph Bathanti teaches English and Creative Writing at Appalachian State University. He is the author of nine poetry collections, three novels, a short story collection, and a book of nonfiction essays. Bathanti served as Poet Laureate of North Carolina from 2012-2014.