Western Carolina University will honor its first African-American student with a dedication ceremony for its newest residence hall – Levern Hamlin Allen Residence Hall – at 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 5.
Allen Residence Hall is the first building on campus to be named after an African-American. The ceremony will take place at the facility on Central Drive. Among those speaking at the ceremony will be Chancellor Kelli Brown, Board of Trustees Chair Bryant Kinney and WCU alumnus Michael Naylor, who was instrumental in the university reconnecting with Allen in 1987 and is the current president of the WCU African-American Alumni Society.
In the summer of 1957, what was then called Western Carolina College became one of the first all-white institutions of higher education in North Carolina to integrate. It was just three years after the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling that stated segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.
Allen, a recent graduate of the Hampton Institute, had taken a teaching job in Charlotte with the Mecklenburg County School System, but she needed nine credit hours to earn her North Carolina teaching certificate. WCC was the only school that offered the classes she needed.
The ceremony is open to the public. Parking near Allen Hall is limited, but is available around campus and Cat-Tran shuttles will be in operation.