Clara Belle Williams (1885-1994)


Clara Belle Williams (1885-1994), the first black graduate of New Mexico State University. Many or her professors would not allow her inside the class room, she had to take notes from the hallway; she was also not allowed to walk with her class to get her diploma. She became a great teacher, of black students by day, and by night she taught their parents (former slaves) home economics.
Making education a priority, Clara urged her sons to succeed in higher education and they did just that. All three went to college and graduated with medical degrees. Charles attended Howard University Medical School in Washington D.C. Jasper and James graduated from Creighton University Medical School in Omaha, Neb. They went on to found the Williams Clinic in Chicago, Ill.
Clara went on to receive many honors during her lifetime. She succeeded despite significant obstacles of discrimination placed before her while pursuing higher education. In 1961, NMSU named Williams Street on the main campus in her honor. She received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from NMSU in 1980. Williams passed away in 1994. She was 108.




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