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UNC School of Law honors its first Black female graduate with portrait

The Allen family poses together in front of the portrait of Sylvia Allen.
Dillon Davis
UNC School of Law
The Allen family poses together in front of the portrait of Sylvia Allen.

Sylvia Allen graduated from the UNC School of Law in 1962, becoming the school’s first Black female graduate. On Friday, the law school held a ceremony to unveil Allen’s portrait with students, faculty, and her family in attendance.

One of the first three Black female lawyers admitted to the bar in North Carolina, Allen later became the first Black female assistant district attorney in the state, the law school wrote in a news release.

Allen was also a civil rights activist who advocated for fair housing and protecting the homeless, among other causes.

In addition, the Sylvia X. Allen Scholarship Endowment Fund was established in her honor to help diversify UNC’s Law school.

Allen died in 2012 at the age of 88.

Allen's portrait is now on display in the reading room of the Kathrine R. Everett Law Library. Her portrait joins other notable Carolina Law alumni and faculty, like Henry Frye, the first Black chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court.

Sharryse Piggott is WUNC’s PM Reporter.
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