The University of Chicago has remembered one of its own with a touching tribute.
Dr. Georgiana Simpson, the school’s first African-American female Ph.D. graduate in the early 1900s, was honored with a statue Tuesday, CBS Chicago reported. The life-sized bronze bust is the first of its kind on campus.
Simpson’s story had been overlooked by current students and administrators. Much of the scholar’s history was overshadowed by a sea of White male faces that lined the university’s dining hall, known as “White Men Only” hall, according to the report.
However, students sought change and a proper commemoration of Simpson as well as her unprecedented achievement back in 1921. Shae Omonijo and Asya Akca, two University of Chicago seniors, unearthed Simpson’s and other trailblazing women’s stories that had been relegated to obscurity in the university’s archives as part of their Monumental Women Project, according to the University of Chicago.
“May the permanent fixture of Dr. Simpson’s legacy remain an inspiration,” Omonijo said during the unveiling ceremony Tuesday.
The doctoral graduate, who studied German philology, has earned a place of prominence at the university, officials said. They praised Simpson’s dexterity and her determination to face the ugliness of racism.
Simpson had attempted to integrate campus dorms at the university in 1907. Dean of Women Marian Talbot approved the decision. However, University President Harry Judson overturned it and insisted that she find off-campus housing because of her skin color.
“Dr. Simpson had to persevere,” Carol Moseley Braun, the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Senate, said. “I mean, think about what she had to go through — the turn of the last century, they were hanging people from trees in those days.”
The doctorate alumna proved that no amount of racial animus would be detrimental to her progress, which has motivated several students of color at the university.
“With her resilience, she continued, and that academic inquiry and drive is what motivated us,” Akca stated about the inspirational scholar.