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Oct 19, 2016 07:31 AM EDT

Yale University's First Black Student Honored


One of Yale's long-held tradition is naming its classrooms after its celebrated alumni and recently it has named another classroom to its first black student.

James W.C. Pennington, who escaped from slavery in 1837 entered Yale despite the law that time prohibiting black student to receive education in Connecticut. Although he entered the prestigious university, he was treated unfairly because of his color. He was not allowed to speak during class, use the library, or even earn a degree. In a way, he seemed nonexistent at the campus at that time.

After he left Yale, he became an abolitionist and a minister. One of his popular quotes was, "There is one sin that slavery committed against me, which I can never forgive. It robbed me of my education."

According to Greg Sterling, the dean of the divinity school, by honoring Pennington, the man whose voice was not permitted to speak a long time ago in the halls of Yale will have his name repeated forever.

Sterling was also the strongest advocates in naming the classroom after Pennington, which he announced during the commencement exercises in Yale in 2015. During that time, racial tensions were also getting high-strung as African-American women were reportedly banned from a Halloween party by a fraternity on campus.

The dean further explained that the move to name the classroom after Pennington is not just to honor him and acknowledge how African - American students have made an impact in the history of the university but also for students to find some emotional release after a year full of tension. When the decision was announced, students and staff have received the news with vigorous enthusiasm said Sterling.

"Part of the reason this decision was made is that Yale is based on tradition and that tradition is largely, but not entirely, white. This is a way for students who haven't been able to lay claim to Yale's history to have a chance to do so," he continued.

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