The Walter N. Ridley Distinguished Speaker Series
Walter Ridley was the first African American to graduate from the University of Virginia, with a doctorate in education from the Curry School. This series has been created to honor his legacy at the University and his contributions to the field of education.
by John B. King, Jr.
United States Secretary of Education
Wednesday, November 2
University of Virginia
Reception to follow.
John B. King, Jr. is the U.S. Secretary of Education, a position he assumed in January 2016. In tapping him to lead the U.S. Department of Education, President Obama called Dr. King "an exceptionally talented educator," citing his commitment to "preparing every child for success" and his lifelong dedication to education as a teacher, principal, and leader of schools and school systems.
Before becoming Secretary, Secretary King had served at the Department since January 2015 and carried out the duties of the Deputy Secretary, overseeing all preschool-through-12th-grade education policies and programs as well as Department operations. Secretary King joined the Department following his tenure as the first African-American and Puerto Rican to serve as New York State Education Commissioner, a post he held from 2011 to 2015.
King began his career in education as a high school social studies teacher in Puerto Rico and Boston and a middle school principal.
He credits New York City public school teachers — particularly educators at P.S. 276 in Canarsie and Mark Twain J.H.S. in Coney Island — for saving his life by providing rich, engaging, and transformative educational experiences and giving him hope about the future.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in government from Harvard University, a J.D. from Yale Law School, and a Master of Arts in the teaching of social studies and a doctorate in education from Teachers College at Columbia University.
Admission is free and open to the public. Seating is limited.
RSVPs are closed, as the event is at capacity.
Sponsored by the Curry School of Education and the Ridley Scholarship Fund.
University of Virginia's First Black Graduate: Dr. Walter N. Ridley
Dr. Walter N. Ridley, a native Virginian and a respected, accomplished academic at one of Virginia's oldest public institutions of higher education (Virginia State College, Petersburg), was admitted to UVa three years before the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision which ordered desegregation of public schools. He became the University's first black graduate in June 1953, and the nation's first African-American to receive a doctorate degree from a white southern university. Throughout his life, Dr. Ridley was committed to the education of black college students and making a positive impact on society. Read Dr. Ridley's Bio