UVA Wise Honors Dr. Miriam DeLois Morris Fuller

The University of Virginia at Wise recently honored the college’s first African American student, Miriam Morris Fuller, by dedicating the library foyer after her. Fuller was the daring trailblazer who enrolled when Virginia’s segregation practices were still in full force. Thanks to the event being held virtually because of the pandemic, Fuller and her family were able to witness the event from the comfort and safety of her Missouri home. Numerous individuals spoke about Fuller’s career as an educator and a pioneer who stood strong even when she was alone.
Chancellor Donna P. Henry stated, “The University of Virginia College at Wise dedicated the library foyer in honor of Dr. Miriam DeLois Morris Fuller. Fuller was the first black student at the college during segregation in the state of Virginia. Today, we recognize Dr. Fuller for a lifetime of achievements and a life of service, faith, courage, and tenacity. The University of Virginia’s College at Wise library foyer will be named the Dr. Miriam Delois Morris Fuller Library Foyer in her honor.”
Looking back at the social and political context of that time, Fuller enrolled at UVA Wise when Virginia lawmakers defied the 1954 Supreme Court ruling that said segregation was unconstitutional. For many years there was massive resistance to the notion and segregation was still very much a reality when Fuller enrolled in 1960.
Dr. Fuller was a librarian at the segregated Bland High School located in Big Stone Gap, the very building that now houses the Town Hall. Fuller had wanted to upgrade her skills by taking some additional courses, and had asked Professor Emma McCray if she could enroll, and McCray was very supportive of the decision.
Fuller, a native of Wise County, was raised with a Christian upbringing, who earned a bachelor’s degree at Virginia State University, excelled at CVC, and authored a series of curriculum books that were used for decades in public school systems across the nation. All of this in addition to a phenomenal career as librarian, and educator, she was also named the 2014 Woman of Achievement recipient.

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