The First African American Students

Picture: William Walter Smith & Yearbook Photograph Maudelle Tanner Brown Bousfield (with her first name mispelled)

The first African-American student, Jonathan Rogan was admitted in 1887 but left after one year. The first black graduate of Illinois was William Walter Smith in 1900. Six years later Maudelle Brown became the first female African American to graduate from Illinois. These first graduates opened the door for a slowly growing African American presence at Illinois.