Clara Belle Drisdale Williams [1885-1993] was the first African-American graduate of New Mexico State University. Many of her professors would not allow her inside the classroom, she had to take notes from the hallway; she was also not allowed to walk with her class to get her diploma. She married Jasper Williams in 1917; their three sons became physicians. She became a great teacher of black students by day, and by night she taught their parents, former slaves, home economics. In 1961, New Mexico State University named a street on its campus after Williams; in 2005 the building of the English department was renamed Clara Belle Williams Hall. In 1980 Williams was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws degree by NMSU, which also apologized for the treatment she was subjected to as a student. She died at 108 years old.
Judith Shaw Beatty