This fall marks the 50th anniversary of the desegregation of East Carolina. In 1962, Ms. Laura Marie Leary of Vanceboro, North Carolina became the first black student to attend what was then East Carolina College. Ms. Leary, with strong support from Dr. Leo Jenkins and Dr. Andrew Best, paved the way toward the integration and eventual desegregation of East Carolina College.

Ms. Leary, now Laura Marie Elliott, graduated in 1966 with a degree in business administration. After leaving East Carolina, she made her home in Baltimore, MD where she retired after working with the federal government.

Enrollment of African American students at East Carolina University has increased steadily through the years. As of the fall 2011 class, 15% of ECU student body is African American.

On September 21, 2012, East Carolina University and the ECU Board of Trustees passed a resolution for a yearlong celebration to recognize the 50-year anniversary of Mrs. Elliott as well as the countless students, faculty, staff and coaches who followed in her path.

The celebration started on the morning of Homecoming with Mrs. Elliott participating in the Homecoming parade and will continue throughout the year. On November 1st, ECU will host a panel discussion with Justice Henry Frye, the first African American chief justice of the NC Supreme Court, and panelists spanning the last five decades in ECU’s minority history.

On the field with Chancellor Steve Ballard and Chair of the ECU Board of Trustees Bob Lucas, please give a warm East Carolina University welcome home to Mrs. Laura Marie Elliott.

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