Bust of first African American University graduate to be unveiled

Samantha Ruvolo, Contributing Writer

A bust of Edward Brawley, the first African American to attend the University, will be unveiled on May 1. The bust commemorates the 142nd anniversary of his graduation from the University.

The statue is intended to keep his memory alive on campus and to remember the fight for racial equality. It will be placed on the Humanities Quad by the Vaughan Literature Building as a reminder of Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1958 visit and the University’s willingness and forward thinking during that time period.

Associate Professor of Art and Art History Joseph Meiser and Director of the Griot Institute of Africana Studies Carmen Gillespie worked on the project alongside University President John Bravman and Provost Barbara Altmann.

Gillespie explained that the idea of commemorating Brawley was sparked by a student, Marissa Calhoun ’10, who was doing an independent study of the African American timeline of the University.

After Gillespie invited Brawley’s descendants to homecoming and heard about their family history, she felt it would, “be important for Bucknell to recognize Brawley’s accomplishments, as well as to note that the University was the first extant private school in Pennsylvania to admit an African-American student.”

Through this project she feels it is “essential to recognize the inequalities of the past and how much work we must continue to do to ensure that Bucknell becomes the institution Brawley and King both advocated for in their lives and work. I hope that the bust stands as a perpetual reminder of that charge.”

Meiser, who specializes in sculpture, designed and sculpted the bust of Brawley.

“Commemorating these events with a sculpture at the center of campus will serve as a physical reminder of these particular milestones, and a more general reminder that equality can’t be taken for granted—that we must remain vigilant in our efforts to create an inclusive society where everyone can thrive,” Meiser said.

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