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Howard University renames street after Alpha Kappa Alpha founding member Lucy Diggs Slowe

At a ceremony held Friday, the university officially renamed the 2400 block of 4th Street Northwest to Lucy Diggs Slowe Way

WASHINGTON D.C., DC — An educator, leader and visionary, Lucy Diggs Slowe was a pioneer in education, women's studies, race, politics and sports. Now, she has a street named after her at her alma mater.

Howard University held the street renaming ceremony Friday in the 2400 block of 4th Street Northwest, one of the nearby streets that surround the campus. 

Howard University Provost Dr. Anthony Wutoh, Dean Phylicia Rashad and Dean Sandra Crewe were all in attendance for the ceremony.  

In an era where it was uncommon for black women to hold office in politics, speak out and advocate for the advancement of women's movements, Slowe made it her mission to do just that and change the trajectory of how Black women were seen in powerful positions.

Slowe attended Howard University in the 1900s, holding positions in several campus organizations including Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., the National Youth Administration, the National Council of Negro Women, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She graduated as class valedictorian from the university in 1908.

Upon graduation, Slowe taught in Baltimore, Maryland before she returned to Washington D.C. where she created and led the District’s first junior high school. 

In 1922, Slowe joined the faculty at her alma mater as the first Dean of Women. As a dean, Slowe continued to lead, learn, and advocate for a better quality of education for Black women within a male-dominated institution.

Slowe was also a pioneer in sports, becoming the first Black woman to win a national title in any major sport. She was also a 17-time American Tennis Association champion.

Howard University President Wayne Frederick said in a statement: “This is an incredible time in history, where we have the opportunity to cement the legacy of Lucy Diggs Slowe into the landscape of our nation’s capital and Howard’s campus.”

In addition to the street renaming, there will be banners in four locations around the campus including: 

  • At the west corner of Howard Place and 4th Street in honor of Slowe’s position as the first woman Dean at Howard; 
  • The Howard Middle School at Fourth and Howard Place, Northwest, (former Miner Hall) for being a founder and the first president of the first Black Sorority – Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.;
  • At the west corner of 4th and College Street for being an educational leader and advocate in the District of Columbia, where she organized the first Black junior high school; and 
  • At the east corner of 4th and College Street in honor of Slowe’s accomplishments as an athlete.

It was also announced at the ceremony that Mayor Muriel Bowser has declared Oct. 21 as Lucy Diggs Slowe Way Day in the district.

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