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College's Only Living Female Graduate Proud to Be a Morehouse Woman


Mary Robinson Spivey is proud to tell anyone that she is a 1933 graduate of Morehouse College.

Yes, she.

Spivey is the last of 33 women who entered and graduated from the College between 1929 and 1933 (no women have been admitted since then). She briefly attended Atlanta University, but wanted to go to Morehouse, where her mother had taken a few first-aid and nursing courses around 1909.

“I told my mother, ‘I just got to go to [Morehouse]’” Spivey said. “So she talked to President Samuel Archer. He knew her. After she talked with him about it, he said, ‘Let me think about it.’ He thought about it and let me go there.

“I was kind of scared when I first went, but everybody was so nice. I had no problems.”

Nearly all of the women who attended Morehouse back then took evening classes. The only one who didn’t – Spivey, who was Mary Cecelia Robinson.

“Everyone was good to me,” she said. “I’ll tell anybody I wouldn’t have taken anything for it.

“But I’ll never forget this one statistics teacher gave us a test,” Spivey said. “He put an example on the board. And he said, ‘You’re going to see this again.’ And I said, ‘That’s all I need to know.’ Most anything I saw, I could give back to you. All I had to do was see it.

“So he put that problem on the board and told us to work it out. I said ‘Oh, I got this.’ He came back and said, ‘Men, you all should be ashamed of yourselves. You let this lady come in here and just run rings around you.’ They couldn’t do anything but look at me and shake their heads.”

After graduation, Spivey went to graduate school at Atlanta University and also did graduate work at Peabody College, the University of Chicago and Western Reserve University (now Case Western Reserve University).

She had a long career in education. Among her accomplishments, Spivey was named Teacher of the Year by the Atlanta Public Schools. She was lauded at Selma College as one of the teachers who gave her time to help Selma get certified to go from being a junior college to a four-year institution.

Along with being the College’s sole living female graduate, Spivey also is the oldest graduate attending Commencement/Reunion 2011. Since her original diploma was lost, the College will present Spivey with a replacement.

“You are absolutely everything we say Morehouse is and we appreciate you for living your life that way,” said Henry Goodgame ’84, director of Alumni Relations, Special Events and Annual Giving. Goodgame had visited Spivey’s southwest Atlanta home to extend the invitation.

All the attention has been a bit overwhelming for Spivey, but she said she is proud to be a Morehouse Woman.

“Morehouse is a place that gave you drive,” she said. “Nobody had to drive you to do it. You do it on your own. And I got that at Morehouse. They taught you at Morehouse and I think they are still doing the same thing today, because the College has turned out a lot of good men.”

And a few good women, too.

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