Campus Mural to Honor First Black Alumna’s Legacy

The Leah Brock McCartney Project
June 16, 2021

Two recent GW alumni are leading an initiative to create a mural commemorating Leah Brock McCartney, the first Black woman believed to have graduated from GW and a pioneering judge in Missouri.

Inspired by the course, “Black Feminist Theory—Lemons Into Lemonade: Black Women in the U.S.,” taught by Dr. Jordan S. West, GW alumni Owen Manning and Naseem Haamid, with the support of President Thomas LeBlanc, have created the Leah Brock McCartney Project to honor her.

McCartney, the first Black woman believed to have graduated from GW, received an L.L.B. degree in 1954. In 1968, she became the first Black woman to earn a law degree from GW, graduating with the highest grade point average in her third-year class despite working full-time during her studies.

During her illustrious legal career, she was the first female municipal judge of record in Missouri, taught law at the University of Tulsa and became the first Black person to serve on the Missouri Public Service Commission.

Through this initiative, a 26 x 36 feet mural honoring Judge McCartney will be created and displayed on campus. The project is seeking the support of the GW community to turn its vision into reality, providing a permanent space to honor Judge McCartney and the legacy of Black women at GW.

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