CHICAGO (CBS) — An African American woman, who’s memory was nearly erased from the University of Chicago, is being carved back into the school’s history.
In the school’s dining hall, portraits of white men can be seen. In fact, it is often referred to as the “White Men Only” hall. Tuesday, however, the university unveiled a statue of a forgotten scholar — Dr. Georgiana Simpson.
She is the first African American woman to revive a doctorate degree at the University. She did so in 1919.
Simpson’s story came back to life after two U of C seniors, Shae Omonijo and Asya Akca, had an interest in searching the university’s archives to find trailblazing women who’s stories have gone untold.
“May the permanent fixture of Dr. Simpson’s legacy remain an inspiration,” Omonijo said during Tuesday’s unveiling ceremony.
Dean of Women, Marion Talbot, let Simpson move into a campus dorm. Due to her skin color, however, then University President Harry Judson insisted she live off campus.
“With her resilience, she continued, and that academic inquiry and drive is what motivated us,” Akca said.
Simpson also motivated the first African American woman elected to the U.S. Senate. Carol Moseley Braun said, “Dr. Simpson had to persevere. 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.”
Simpson’s bust sits directly across from the picture of Judson. The location was purposefully selected.