University of Chicago Unveils Statue Honoring Trailblazing Black Female Scholar

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The University of Chicago unveiled a bronze statue Monday, Nov. 27, honoring an African- American scholar who left her mark at the prestigious university once dominated by white males.

The story of Georgiana Rose Simpson, the first Black female to receive a doctorate degree from U of C, was brought to life after senior students Asya Akca and Shae Omonijo met as roommates their freshman year of college, CBS Chicago reported. Acka and Omonijo, both political science majors, were led to Simpson’s story by their own interest to discover their voices as young women.

Simpson arrived at the university in 1907 after teaching in her hometown of Washington, D.C. for a few years. Her presence at the campus dormitory caused quite the commotion because she was Black, and she was eventually ordered to move off campus. She earned her master’s degree in 1920 and her doctorate in 1921 at 55-years-old.

Simpson went on to author articles for W.E.B DuBois’ publications and retired after teaching German as a professor at Howard University, according to AP.

It took nearly three years to raise the $50,000 needed for the bronze bust honoring the late scholar. Her likeness now sits in the Reynolds Club, a campus area once reserved for white men only, directly across from a bronze relief of Harry Pratt Judson, the university president who forced her to move off campus.

“She’s looking onward, her chin is up high,” Omonijo told CBS Chicago of the statue. “She’s smiling and grinning a little bit.”

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