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Mary Frances Early: A Living Legend of the University of Georgia When one thinks of prominent figures in African American history the direct correlation is that those leaders lived and died long ago, and are far removed from present-day society. In lieu of Dr. Mary Frances Early’s achievements, she is a “Living Legend” walking amongst the faculty, staff, and students here at Clark Atlanta University. Professor Mary Frances Early graduated valedictorian from Clark College in 1957 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education. She then pursued her post graduate studies at the University of Michigan in the summer months, while she taught in Georgia during the school year. Appalled by the treatment of the two African American students at the University of Georgia by their white counterparts, she felt compelled to transfer from the University of Michigan to apply for admission into the University of Georgia. “I want you to think about what you are doing”, stated her mother when Mary Frances presented her with her intentions. Mary Frances received her greatly anticipated acceptance letter from the University of Georgia in the summer of 1961; after much deliberation by the university. While in attendance at University of Georgia, Mary Frances Early, endured many blatant hardships and dehumanizing attitudes from her white counterparts. While attempting to enter the library a few Caucasian students created a “human barricade” in an attempt to block the entrance of the library. Mary Frances being the strong African American woman that she is stormed “full speed ahead” through the “human barricade” into the library to study. Mary Frances Early’s safe-haven at the university was the music department, where she “fined tuned” her musical talents. She continued to encounter dehumanizing pranks and jokes. For example, she was locked in a class room by some of the students at 10:00 p.m., in which she was then scolded by the security guard who held no regard for those responsible for terrorizing her. Dr. Early, became a beacon of light for all to see when she became the 1st African American to obtain a graduate degree from the University of Georgia on August 16, 1962.


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