By: Ben Anderson
Alma Shippy was a quiet young man from Swannanoa when he made history by becoming the first black student to enroll at Warren Wilson Vocational Junior College in 1952 – two years before Brown vs. Board of Education. Now, not quite three years after his death in December 2006, the pioneering Shippy is being honored at present-day Warren Wilson College with an endowed scholarship bearing his name.
The Alma Shippy Memorial Scholarship has been created by Shippy’s classmates and friends to help students with financial need who also bring diversity to campus. Although the scholarship fund has reached the endowment level, Warren Wilson is inviting additional gifts of any amount to help provide even greater financial assistance to Shippy scholarship recipients.
Shippy was “a mentor to children all over (the Swannanoa Valley),” said Rodney Lytle, a Warren Wilson alumnus and the college’s interim alumni relations director. “I’m thankful that he came to Warren Wilson, as he opened the door for my brothers and me.”
Shippy, a graduate of Asheville’s Stephens-Lee High School who grew up in Buckeye Cove near the Warren Wilson campus, indeed blazed a trail for other black students at the college. Among them was Georgia Powell, who in 1955 became the first African-American to graduate from Warren Wilson. Shippy’s watershed enrollment, done without incident or fanfare, also helped pave the way for many other black students at historically white colleges and universities across the South as racial barriers finally began to crumble.
At an emotional Warren Wilson ceremony in 2002 celebrating the 50th anniversary of his enrollment, Shippy said, “We had a wonderful closeness with the staff here. I still feel this is my family, right here.”
For more information about the Alma Shippy Memorial Scholarship and how to contribute to it, contact Richard Blomgren, WWC interim vice president for advancement, at 828-771-2050 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or click here and select Alma Shippy Memorial Scholarship in the drop-down menu under Gift Information.