FAMU professor to speak at Bainbridge College March 20

Published 3:53 pm Thursday, March 8, 2012

The first African-American student from Athens, Ga., to attend the University of Georgia in Athens is scheduled to speak at Bainbridge College on Tuesday, March 20.

Dr. Mary B. Diallo, an associate professor of French in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Fla., will speak to BC students and the public about her experience at the University of Georgia. She is scheduled to begin at 12:15 p.m. at the Kirbo Regional Center at the BC campus.

In an article written by Dr. Diallo on her experiences, she said, “In 1961, inspired by the integration of the University of Georgia by Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter, four Athens High and Industrial School students, including myself, applied for admission to UGA.” However, she was the only one who received an acceptance letter for undergraduate admission.

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“My acceptance to UGA, when I received it, was like an open secret that no one dared to acknowledge in any public forum, even though I was the first African American from Athens to be admitted there,” Dr. Diallo wrote. “Our school newspaper did not report it, nor was it mentioned during my high school graduation ceremony. Fear was rampant during this time, warranted or not.”

Her other three high school classmates who initially were refused admission to UGA, all graduated from historically black colleges. Two of them, Joan Liston and Ola Lumpkin, later received graduate degrees from the University of Georgia.

She received her Bachelor of Arts in 1966 and Master of Arts in French literature in 1973 from the University of Georgia, and her doctorate in French literature from Emory University. Her research interest is in 20th century French literature.

Dr. Diallo formally taught at Morehouse College and has been a contract interpreter for the U.S. Department of State. She has been a Fulbright Exchange Teacher in Benin (1995-1996) and in France (2000-2001). She maintains a strong interest in international education and served as the Florida A&M University Fulbright Program adviser until March 2008. From 2003 to 2007, she served as Faculty Senate President and as a member of the Board of Trustees at Florida A&M University. She is an avid reader and a book collector.