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Dr. Sadie T.M. Alexander was the first Black woman to graduate from Penn's Law School. (Photo from University Archives and Records Center)

Penn Law School announced the creation of three new full tuition scholarships created in honor of the first Black woman to graduate from the Law School.

The Dr. Sadie T.M. Alexander Scholarships, which were established in February, will be awarded to Law School applicants beginning with students admitted to the JD program for fall 2021. The selection committee will award the scholarship to students who desire to focus on advancing racial and economic justice throughout their careers, according to Penn Law.  

The Black Law Students Association advocated for the scholarships to encourage Penn Law to celebrate Alexander's legacy in a lasting, meaningful way. Alexander challenged stereotypes about Black people and women, and, despite widespread obstacles, achieved cross-disciplinary academic and professional success.

Law School Dean Theodore Ruger wrote in a statement that the scholarships are part of a larger strategy to ensure students have the support they need to advance equity and justice. 

In the pursuit of her Ph.D. and JD,  Alexander faced racism and prejudice from Penn students, faculty, and members of the greater Philadelphia community, Penn Law News reported. Despite this, she broke a number of barriers throughout her educational career, becoming the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in economics in the United States, and the first Black woman to graduate from the Law School and be admitted into the Pennsylvania bar. 

After graduating, Alexander continued her work to fight against racial injustice in the United States as a lawyer and civil rights activist, Penn Law News reported.

Alexander served twice as the Assistant City Solicitor for the City of Philadelphia and lead the city’s Commission on Human Rights, Penn Law News reported. She also worked with the Truman administration on the Committee on Civil Rights and with the Carter administration as chairwoman of the White House Conference on Aging. 

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