Edith Mae Irby @ UAMS

Jan 9, 2018

Seventy years ago, in February 1948, the University of Arkansas became the first major public university in the South to voluntarily admit a black student without a lawsuit, when it enrolled Silas Hunt in its Law School. This paved the way for the desegregation of the university’s Medical School in fall 1948 when it accepted the application of Edith Mae Irby. At that time, the Medical School was in the same building that the UA Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law now occupies. Though enrolled at the Medical School, Irby was refused use of the dining room, lodging and bathroom facilities, which remained strictly segregated. Irby went on to enjoy a distinguished career in medicine, including being elected the first woman president of the National Medical Association.