Yale Divinity School dedicates classroom to first black student

WTNH/JP Coleman

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A historic dedication ceremony was held at Yale University Thursday. A classroom at the Yale Divinity School was dedicated to the school’s first black student, James Pennington.

Pennington escaped slavery in the 1830s and was allowed to sit in on classes. Though he was not allowed to officially enroll, or even speak in class, he listened and learned. He pursued a career as a minister and abolitionist.

Yale hopes this will give students a sense of racial equality on campus.

WTNH/JP Coleman
WTNH/JP Coleman

“I think it’s momentous for our school,” said Divinity School Dean Greg Sterling. “Yale is not only a school with a white tradition, it also has a black tradition, and that’s critical for them to understand.”

Sterling says honoring Pennington recovers part of Yale’s past that has been neglected.

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