University Names Building after its First African-American Graduate

The University of Scranton dedicated Louis Stanley Brown Hall to honor its first African-American graduate, who was a member of the Class of 1919.

Louis Stanley Brown Hall
Louis Stanley Brown Hall

The University of Scranton dedicated Louis Stanley Brown Hall to honor its first African-American graduate, who was a member of the Class of 1919. University President Kevin P. Quinn, S.J., named and blessed the building, a historic structure located at 600 Linden St., at a ceremony on Feb. 18. The ceremony was part of the University’s Black History Month celebration. 

“The University is proud to dedicate Louis Stanley Brown Hall, which takes a page out of our history books and brings it to new life on campus and in the greater Scranton community,” said Father Quinn. “As an African- American college graduate in the early 1900s, Louis Stanley Brown serves as an illustration of the longstanding commitment to justice in Jesuit and Catholic education.” 

Born in 1902 in Scranton’s Pine Brook section, Brown earned a commercial degree from The University of Scranton, then St. Thomas College. He was one of five children born to Henry and Sarah Brown. The college’s yearbook noted that Brown was ambitious and industrious, as well as humorous and witty. After graduation, he remained in Scranton, working as a shoe shiner, a laborer in the coal mines and a truck driver for G.W. Brown Inc. He died at the age of 60, and is buried in the Cathedral Cemetery in Scranton. 

About Louis Stanley Brown Hall

Louis Stanley Brown Hall was put into service as the P.P. Carter Building in 1896, and completed in 1897. The building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is a significant local example of turn-of-the-century architecture, influenced by both the Classical Revival and Commercial styles.

The building has housed a wide variety of businesses from its beginning, including a printing company, axe and mining tool sales, a sweet shop, a dance studio, an advertising agency and a bus terminal. It was acquired by the University in 2012 and is now home to the divisions of Enrollment Management & External Affairs and University Advancement, as well as the Small Business Development Center.

Read more, here.


The Fierce Urgency of Now 

The featured speaker at the dedication was Yohuru Williams, Ph.D. ’93, G ’93, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Fairfield University and a new member of Scranton's Board of Trustees. 

Excerpts from Dr. Williams’ talk: 

I like that we don’t know much about Louis Stanley Brown. That’s exactly as it should be. Because if all life matters — if we privilege life — then it’s not about what you say, or where you’re from or what degree you have. It’s about the fact that, as a living, breathing member of the human race, we recognize your value and we want to say that we appreciate and dedicate ourselves to the preservation of human life. 

It’s what you do for those on the margins that really defines you in those moments when people call into question what you believe, your value system, those very things that you hold dear. And what St. Thomas answered in 1919 is: black lives matter; all lives matter; Stanley matters. 

Hopefully what all this will represent is that this is how The University of Scranton continues to feel to this day. If we look at Louis Stanley Brown’s life: he’s born in 1902; he graduates in 1919; he dies [in 1962]. You just had the integration of American colleges and universities in the 1950s. They were ahead of their time graduating a person of color. They didn’t have to do it. It wasn’t their fight. They could’ve gotten away with not being involved in that struggle, but they did it because it was the right thing to do. They did it because they lived their values. They did it because they recognized the dignity of human life. 

Watch the full dedication ceremony below.

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