January 4, 2024, marks the 60th anniversary of Auburn’s integration. On January 4, 1964, Dr. Harold A. Franklin blazed a trail for all those who would come behind him. This moment in our institution's history serves as a reminder of our charge to honor the past, recognize the present, and look toward the future. For Auburn’s commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the university’s integration, there will be a collaborative effort across university departments, unit leaders, student organizations, and alumni organizations to recognize the legacy of Dr. Harold A. Franklin and other trailblazers toward creating a campus where everyone is welcomed, valued, respected, and engaged.
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60th Anniversary of Integration Commemorative Event
Location: Mell Classroom Building, Ralph Brown Draughon Library
Time: 4:00 p.m.
MLK Scholarship Breakfast
Location: The Hotel at Auburn University & Dixon Conference Center
Time: 7:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
In partnership with Auburn University Outreach, Office of Inclusion and Diversity, and the National Forum of Black Public Administrators
60th Anniversary of Integration Lunch and Learn
This event features a guest speaker and a visual “walk” through history of the last 60 years at Auburn since Dr. Harold A. Franklin first enrolled in 1964.
BSU’s Family Reunion: Neo Soul
Location: Melton Student Center Ballroom
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Current Students Only
Harold Franklin Society (Student Organization) Induction Ceremony
BSU Unity Week
Commemorating 60 years of integration and 40 years of BSU.
BSU 40th Anniversary Gala
5:00 PM in the Student Activities Center
Open to Students, Alumni, Faculty, Staff, and community
BSU’s Jazz and Poetry
Location: Melton Student Center Ballroom
Attire: Semi Formal
Open to students, faculty, and staff
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Black History Month Through the Decades Alumni Panel and Networking Dinner
Location: Melton Student Center Ballroom
Time: 5:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. | All are welcomed
Alumni attendance is highly encouraged
Co-sponsors are OID, BSU, EMERGE, and UPC.
Ninth Annual Black Alumni Weekend
Hosted by the Black Alumni Council, the weekend serves as a chance to celebrate the heritage, culture and legacy of Black alumni and forge the future for Black students at Auburn University.
Sixty years ago, Harold A. Franklin registered for classes at Auburn University, integrating the institution as its first African American student. His courage paved the way for future generations, and his legacy lives on today.
The Melton Scholars Program, administered by Auburn’s Office of Inclusion and Diversity (OID), focuses on providing a supportive and enriching environment that empowers students to thrive academically, socially and personally.
More than 150 students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends and family attended the second annual State of Inclusion and Diversity on April 20 at Auburn University’s Harold D. Melton Student Center Ballroom.
Auburn University today unveiled its new National Pan-Hellenic Council Legacy Plaza, a monument celebrating the history, legacy and cultural impact of Black Greek organizations on campus.
Auburn University honored one of its most esteemed alumni at a dedication ceremony for the Bessie Mae Holloway Hall in the Village area of campus.
Heidi Wright smiled wide and beamed with pride as Auburn University celebrated the life of her late mother, Josetta Brittain Matthews, at a special residence hall naming ceremony.
Harold Franklin arrived at the library at Auburn University on Jan. 4, 1964, to register for classes in the graduate school. He was the first African American student to attend Auburn University.
The legacy of Harold A. Franklin, Auburn University’s first African American student, is displayed on campus with a specially designed desegregation marker. Located adjacent to the Ralph Brown Draughon Library where Franklin first registered for classes, the marker was first erected in 2015. On November 11, 2021, about two months after Franklin’s death, a dedication ceremony was held at the historic site after being expanded to include a landscaped, brick courtyard.
The bronze plaque states, in part, “Dr. Franklin’s bold journey is the epitome of a spirit that is not afraid. His story continues to move our hearts, stimulate our minds and inspire our lives. The same spirit dwells within, reminding us that truth will always prevail.”
Auburn's Historical Progress
Auburn is dedicated to strengthening its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. This historical timeline highlights some of the milestones since our founding as a land-grant institution, as we work toward the ideal environment for everyone in the Auburn Family.
The First Land-Grant College in The South
Under the Morrill Act in 1872, Auburn became the first land-grant college in the South. Since then, Auburn has developed into one of the largest institutions of higher education in the South and been one of the few to carry the torch as a land, sea and space grant university so that members of the working classes could obtain a liberal, practical education.
Auburn’s First Female Students
Willie Little, Katherine Broun and Margaret Teague were admitted to Auburn as the first women to enroll in the university. All three women graduated with honors, and Broun became the first female graduate student at the university.
Women’s Student Government Association Established
Auburn’s Women Student Government Association was established as the university’s first female advocacy group to improve women’s conditions on campus. They adopted a new constitution to recognize their rights as an individual and as a group. The constitution also included a set of regulations regarding women’s dormitories.
Club Latino Americano Founded
Club Latino Americano was founded as the first student organization for Latino students at Auburn.
In the summer of 1947, Isaac Scott Hathaway became one of Auburn’s first African-American professors. Hathaway taught a six-week ceramics class in the College of Human Sciences 16 years prior to Auburn’s integration in 1964.
Hathaway’s lectures in the composition and analysis of clays, slips and glazes were described as outstanding. After his time at Auburn, he moved on to become the Director of Ceramics at Alabama State College where he worked until his retirement in 1963.
A U.S. District Judge rules that Auburn University could not deny the admission of Harold A. Franklin Sr. of Talladega, Alabama. The judge later ruled the university would also provide him living accommodations on campus.
Harold Franklin arrives at the Auburn library to register for classes in the graduate school, solidifying his place in history as the first African-American student to be admitted to Auburn.
Josetta Brittain Matthews becomes the first African American and first African-American woman to graduate from Auburn. After earning a master’s degree and teaching at Tuskegee, she returned to Auburn for a doctoral program in social science education, completing her degree in 1974. She then joined the faculty in the School of Arts of Science, becoming the first African American to do so.
Samuel Pettijohn is the first African American to earn an undergraduate degree at Auburn.
Henry Harris enrolled at Auburn and joined the freshman basketball team, becoming the university’s first black scholarship athlete.
Birmingham native James Owens becomes Auburn’s first African-American scholarship football player.
Alfred Powell becomes the first African-American student at Auburn to earn a doctorate.
Anthony Copeland is the first African-American to be elected vice president of the Student Government Association and president of the Student Senate.
Thom Gossom is the first African-American football player to graduate from Auburn.
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., shown here in a 1973 Glomerata photo, is chartered as Auburn’s first Black fraternity.
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the first Black sorority, is chartered on Auburn’s campus.
Linwood Moore becomes the first African-American cheerleader.
Dr. Bessie Mae Holloway was appointed as the first African American to serve on Auburn’s Board of Trustees.
Vincent “Bo” Jackson wins the Heisman Trophy, the most prestigious award in college football which annually recognizes the nation’s top athlete. He becomes Auburn’s first African-American football player to win the award. Cam Newton would follow in 2010.
Harold Melton, a student in international studies and Spanish, runs for president of Auburn’s Student Government Association. Capturing more than 65 percent of the vote, he becomes the first African-American student at Auburn to serve as SGA president.
Spectrum: Auburn University’s Gay-Straight Alliance Founded
Spectrum was founded as the university’s first LGBTQ+ advocacy group. They promote mutually supportive relationships among all students in the interest of advancing campus and community diversity. Spectrum serves as a safe space for students who are part of gender, sexual, and romantic minorities, those who are still discovering themselves and their allies to gather and discuss topics that relate to them, as well as establish an environment free from discrimination based on sexual orientation as well as gender identity and expression.
The Auburn Black Caucus is chartered as an organization for African Americans at Auburn.
Vania Clemons Bynum becomes the first African-American Miss Auburn.
The Black Student Union is formed at Auburn. The student organization exists to represent the interests and concerns of Black students, to bring together all aspects of Black student life for the purpose of improving the campus environment and encourage the involvement of Black students in all campus activities.
Danyelle Hillman, from Russellville, Alabama, becomes the first African-American female cheerleader.
Auburn awards Harold Franklin an honorary doctorate of arts.
Auburn Wheelchair Basketball Team Formed
Auburn Wheelchair Basketball was created to give students with disabilities an avenue in which to compete and thrive as student-athletes. The program was formed thanks in part to the campus-wide interest generated as the result of Auburn student Jared Rehm competing in wheelchair tennis from 2009-10.
A historical marker is installed on Auburn’s campus, commemorating Harold Franklin’s admittance to the university. The marker concludes with the words, “A century of institutional segregation effectively ended that day, clearing the path for other African American students to enroll and attend Auburn University.”
Auburn launched its most comprehensive climate assessment process that focused on better understanding to the lived experiences of all members of the Auburn Family. The implementation committee, comprised of faculty, staff and students, originally identified 17 recommendations to guide the institution’s future diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
Auburn names Taffye Benson Clayton as its first associate provost and vice president for inclusion and diversity.
Korea Corner Created
Auburn’s Office of Professional & Continuing Education opened Korea Corner—an educational and cultural resource center designed to increase access to materials on Korea and create an educational experience for Auburn students and the local community.
The SGA Student Senate unanimously passes legislation in support of the National Pan-Hellenic Council’s campaign to create a legacy plaza at Auburn.
Eagles Program Created
The College of Education created the Education to Accomplish Growth in Life Experiences for Success, or EAGLES program, to provide opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities. Its first group of program graduates participated in commencement exercises in December 2020.
Ada Ruth Huntley, a global studies major, become the first African-American female Student Government Association president.
Harold Franklin defends his thesis to members of the Department of History.
Harold Franklin is scheduled to receive his master’s degree from Auburn, but the COVID-19 pandemic cancels formal commencement exercises. Auburn mails the degree to Franklin in June.
Auburn establishes the Presidential Task Force for Opportunity and Equity to examine current diversity, equity and inclusion issues and to recommend steps leading to a stronger and more impactful Auburn for students, faculty, staff, alumni and the communities it serves.
The Auburn Board of Trustees supports the creation and naming of the National Pan-Hellenic Council Legacy Plaza. The symbolic and functional space, to be erected in front of the new Academic Classroom and Laboratory Complex, will recognize the legacy of the Black Greek organizations and African-American culture at Auburn. Construction is expected to begin in 2022.
The Black Alumni Council is formed to support the goals and mission of the Auburn Alumni Association specifically on matters pertaining to Black alumni.
The Auburn Board of Trustees acts to name the Student Center for Harold Melton, chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court and the first person of color to be elected SGA president.
The Student Center is officially renamed the Harold D. Melton Student Center, becoming the first building on campus to bear the name of an African American.
Harold Franklin, Auburn’s first African American student, participates in graduation ceremonies at Auburn after the COVID-19 pandemic delayed his participation from the spring.
Tiger Hall is renamed Bessie Mae Holloway Hall in honor of Auburn’s first African American Board of Trustees member, who represented the 1st Congressional District in that capacity from 1985-2000. Members of Holloway’s family—including her nephew Norman Vivians—represented Holloway, who passed away on Sept. 11, 2019, at the ceremony.
Eagle Hall is renamed Josetta Brittain Matthews Hall in honor of Auburn’s first African American graduate and faculty member. Heidi Wright, an Auburn University special education professor, accepted on behalf of Matthews, who passed away on Dec. 15, 2019.