University of Chicago unveils statue of pioneering African American scholar

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The University of Chicago unveiled a statue Monday evening honoring an African American scholar who has been overlooked by history, until now.

The statue honors Georgiana Rose Simpson, one of the first female African Americans to earn a doctorate degree from the prestigious university.

Simpson's story came alive after Shae Omonijo and Asya Akca, both 21-year-old U of C seniors and political science majors - met years ago as freshmen living in the same dorm. Although they come from different backgrounds, both had an interest in finding their voice as women when they stumbled upon Simpson's story.

Georgiana Simpson arrived at the University in Chicago in 1907 after teaching in her hometown of Washington, D.C. Her presence in the dorm sparked controversy because she was black, and she was eventually forced to move off campus. She completed her master's degree in 1920 and her doctorate in 1921. She was 55 years old.

Simpson went on to write articles for W.E.B. Dubois' publications and retired as a college professor teaching German at Howard University.

Finally, after three years and raising nearly $50,000, a bronze bust of Simpson was unveiled on the University of Chicago campus. It sits in the hallway at the Reynolds Club, a place once reserved for white men only, directly across the bronze relief honoring Harry Pratt Judson, the college president who made her move off campus.

The bust took four months to sculpt.

The students said they were inspired to tell the scholar's story because Simpson never married or had any children, and simply had no one to celebrate her role in history.
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