Simmons College celebrates historic graduation - News, Weather & Sports

Simmons College celebrates historic graduation

Delores Hayes Delores Hayes

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) -  A college rich in African American history reaches a new milestone. Simmons College of Kentucky finally received national accreditation after more than a century.

Sunday's graduation ceremony was 135 years in the making.

"You feel like a part of history," graduate Delores Hayes said.

Simmons College was one of the first campuses in the country to educate former slaves.
Hayes, 64, considers it an honor to be part of the college's legacy after rising above segregation.  

"I have good and bad memories of when the school was integrated," Hayes recalled.

The college was founded by former slaves in 1879. It wasn't until this past February that it became nationally accredited. Delores's class is the first to graduate since then.

Upstairs, black and white photographs hang as a testament to Louisville's history and inspiration for its future.

"If this generation could do it under the most oppressive racial policies and they could excel," Simmons President Dr. Kevin Cosby said, pointing to pictures of past students, "then what is our excuse?"

Cosby showed us a book that is more than 100 years old that talks about Simmons as a bastion of education.

"All the former slaves who had heard of college and universities but had never seen neither aspired for such for their people," he read.

"We declare we are still a lighthouse for a struggling people," he added.

Meanwhile Hayes gleamed. She is proud to be the first in her family to graduate from college.

"I just can't believe it's me. Me," she exclaimed.

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