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Towson University to name 2 dorms after its first 2 Black graduates

Marvis Barnes (seated) and Myra Harris
Posted at 2:42 PM, Jun 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-17 18:06:59-04

TOWSON, Md.  — Towson University announced today that two of its dorms will be named after the first two African-Americans to graduate from the university, in 1959.

The buildings, currently named West Village 1 and West Village 2, will be named after Marvis Barnes and Myra Harris. The Board of Regents approved the naming today, and there will be a formal dedication ceremony this fall.

Towson University was racially segregated until the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed segregation in 1954 with the Brown vs. The Board of Education decision. Marvis Barnes and Myra Harris then enrolled and became the university's first Black graduates, in 1959. Last year, the university welcomed its most diverse first-year class ever, with 58.5 percent of new students identifying as a racial or ethnic minority.

Ten Black university alums created the Barnes-Harris Endowment more than 20 decades ago, to support incoming freshmen from metropolitan high schools who need financial help, said Kenny Abrams, President of the Towson Black Alumni Alliance, in a statement.

He added:

I’m elated that we can continue to celebrate their remarkable achievements through the naming of these two buildings that future TU alums will call home.

University president Kim Schatzel said: "Ms. Barnes and Ms. Harris paved the way for the thousands of students that follow in their footsteps still today. They continued to transform their communities through decades of service as teachers and administrators in Maryland’s public schools, further establishing their legacies as inspirational civic leaders in our region and state. I am truly honored to recognize their lifetime of achievement with such a fitting tribute to Ms. Barnes’ and Ms. Harris’ exceptional impact on the TU community.”

Harris said, about learning of the university's plans for the residence halls:

It really came as a surprise and really made my day. I never dreamed something like this would happen.

Marvis Barnes' son, Christopher, also told the university:

It’s a legacy moment. This is an immense honor. We really do appreciate the efforts of Towson University.