Yale University to honor first black student

- FILE - Yale University (WTNH)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Yale University is honoring its first black student by naming a classroom in his honor.

The New Haven Register reports that the school has scheduled a ceremony Thursday to name a divinity school classroom after James W.C. Pennington and to hang his portrait in the room.

Divinity school graduate Lecia Allman led the effort to honor Pennington, who escaped slavery in Maryland in 1837. Allman says it was illegal in Connecticut then to educate African-Americans from other states, but Pennington was allowed to attend classes. He just couldn’t speak, use the library, or earn a degree.

Pennington later became an abolitionist and formed an organization to provide former Amistad captives an education.

Yale Divinity School Dean Gregory Sterling said honoring Pennington “recovers part of our past that has been neglected.”

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