Black Woman Leads Former All White Philly School

Autumn Adkins makes history as the first President of Girard College.

By: Amanda Anderson

When we closely examine our nation’s history, there are many parts that demonstrate a darker period in which the nation was truly against racial equality. These dark moments of history remind us of a time when blacks were unable to receive many of the same benefits that our white counterparts received, with one of the most memorable being the refusal to offer blacks valuable education. As a people, numerous Civil Rights activists and many lives were sacrificed to afford African Americans the same opportunities to excel in areas that were once stricken from us. We are reaching heights that our ancestors always hoped for. So it should come as no surprise that one driven black woman took the steps necessary to land her as the first black president of an all-white former Philadelphia school.

Richmond Virginia native Autumn Adkins, makes significant history as the first African American to serve as President of Girard College (an institution that educates students grades 1st to 12th). Originally, the institution was an all-white school for boys. Fast forward to a 2010, the institution now offers quality education to both male and female students from grades 1st to 12th. Before Adkins, the school has been predominately ran by white men. Benjamin Franklin’s great grandson served as the school’s first president.

When it comes to the dynamics of the student body, most of the school’s 620 students are black. Half of the students are female, and all of the students come from low income families led by single parents.

Adkins understands the importance of having a close relationship with the students, so she is known to host “family meals” at her home to help students get to know her better.

Raised in an Upper-Class Virgina neighborhood, Adkins realized her calling while volunteering in poor neighborhoods.

Adkins says:

“I do have real concerns. Will we be able to educate as many children as we should be? I’ve learned an enormous amount from the students,” Adkins said. “They’re interesting, they’re thoughtful, they’re inquisitive — they deserve the kind of education that complements that.”

Autumn Adkins truly believes that the improvement on the quality of Urban education is the next Civil Rights Movement. Next on this Urban Belle’s agenda is to increase teacher salaries, modernize the facility, and make urban education competitive by expanding the school curriculum.

Any by the looks of things, seems like she’s off to a great start.


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