Anita Florence Hemmings: The First African American Woman To Graduate From Vassar College

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Anita Florence Hemmings was the first African American woman to graduate from Vassar College. In 1893, when she applied to the college she did not say that she was a Negro woman on her application. She was admitted to all woman’s college, and it wasn’t until right before she graduated her true race was discovered. Her college dorm roommate was suspicious of her background. She had informed her father, and he had Ms. Hemmings investigated. It turned out that she was the daughter of a homemaker, Dora Logan and a custodian, Robert Williamson Hemmings, who had conspired with their daughter to keep her race a secret. "We know our daughter went to Vassar as a white girl and stayed there as such. As long as she conducted herself as a lady, she never …show more content…
Hemmings was no different from the other 103 girls who entered with the class of 1897. However, she had to appeal to the college President, “Prexy” Taylor about receiving her diploma. When she received her diploma none were the wiser that one of the graduates was actually of African descent. She was voted as the class beauty and thought to have a Native American heritage. Anita Hemmings certainly didn’t appear to be of Negro descent, with her clear olive complexion, black hair and eyebrows and coal black eyes, she passed as a white brunette. Passing was not uncommon back in those days. Many African Americans at that time and even until today would pass themselves off as being white to gain social, economic and educational advantages. Even though the whole time she was there she never denied her African heritage, she also never made light of …show more content…
Recently Rachel Dolezal, who is a white woman for many years, lived as a black woman and was even the President of the Spokane, Washington NAACP. It wasn’t until her parents came out and told the world that she was born a white girl and raised as a white girl that the country was up in alarm. Rachel for a while denied that they were her parents, but eventually gave up her charade and claimed that she identifies as being black. Many African American’s could not understand why she would want to identify herself as black, considering all of the obstacles that blacks still face today. Though we have made some strides in equality, there are still many inequalities and differences in which the way blacks are treated. Somehow, she was drawn to the struggle and felt she could only make a difference by becoming one in the

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