In 1904, she received a scholarship to attend Howard University. Upon her graduation in 1908, she was valedictorian, and a founder and the first president of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the country’s first African American sorority. Slowe worked in secondary education and school administration before returning to Howard University to become the first full-time dean of women in 1922.
Slowe recognized the marginalization of women, particularly Black women, in higher education and wanted to create an environment where they felt welcome to learn. She carried a philosophy of “living more abundantly” in order to improve educational access and campus success for Black college women.
Author Tamara Beauboeuf-Lafontant examines Slowe’s 15-year career at Howard University and the impact it had on Black, female higher education in the new book “To Live More Abundantly: Black Collegiate Women, Howard University, and the Audacity of Dean Lucy Diggs Slowe.”
As the dean of women, Slowe empowered Black college women to invest in their growth, engage in the community and pursue positions of leadership after graduation. Slowe created the National Association of College Women and the National Association of Women’s Deans and Advisers of Colored Schools. As a professor at Grinnell College, Beauboeuf-Lafontant gives a modern voice to strong, female historical figures that challenged the ideas of gender and their role in shaping education today.