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University of South Carolina to Erect Statue of First African-American Professor

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The University of South Carolina wants to erect a statue in honor of the school’s first African-American professor.

The university hosted a celebration about Richard T. Greener’s life Monday afternoon.

The State of Columbia reported university officials hope to raise money for the statue and an endowment that would pay for future public lectures and programs that relate to Greener’s “pioneering spirit and contributions.”

The statue is expected to be placed next to the Thomas Cooper Library. The project is expected to cost about $225,000.

In 1870, Greener became the first African-American to graduate from Harvard University. Three years later, he became the first African-American on USC’s faculty, teaching classics, math and constitutional history. He taught at the school from 1873-77.

He was little-known until 2012, when his South Carolina law degree and law license were found in a house in Chicago that was about to be demolished.

Greener was born in Philadelphia and in 1870 became the first Black man to graduate from Harvard University.

His career at the university ended in 1877 when Gov. Wade Hampton took office and the school, made up of predominantly Black students during Reconstruction, was closed. It reopened in 1880 as an all-White school. Blacks were not admitted again until 1963.

Greener went into private practice and later was dean of Howard University’s law school. He later was a U.S. diplomat in Vladivostok, Russia.

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