2 of Memphis' first 8 African-American students died days apart - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

2 of Memphis' first 8 African-American students died days apart

Left to right, in 1959: (front row) Bertha Rogers Looney, Marvis LaVerne Kneeland Jones, Rose Blakney-Love, Sammie Burnett-Johnson and Luther McClellan; (back row) John Simpson, Eleanor Gandy and Ralph Prater. (Source: University of Memphis) Left to right, in 1959: (front row) Bertha Rogers Looney, Marvis LaVerne Kneeland Jones, Rose Blakney-Love, Sammie Burnett-Johnson and Luther McClellan; (back row) John Simpson, Eleanor Gandy and Ralph Prater. (Source: University of Memphis)
Elenor Gandy (Source: University of Memphis) Elenor Gandy (Source: University of Memphis)
Rose Blakney Love (Source: University of Memphis) Rose Blakney Love (Source: University of Memphis)
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) -

Two members of the Memphis State Eight died within one week of each other.

Memphis State Eight is the name given to the first group of African-American students to attend Memphis State University. The students enrolled and took classes beginning in 1959.

Memphis State Eight were only allowed on campus until noon, and they were restricted from the cafeteria and student center.

Eleanor Gandy died February 6 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Rose Blakney Love died February 12 in Memphis.

Gandy graduated from Memphis State University in 1963. She then earned her master's degree in education from Mississippi State University in 1966. After graduation, Gandy spent many years teaching students at Memphis City Schools.

Love followed her education career by working for decades with the Social Security Administration. 

In 2006, the university recognized the pioneering students at a formal dinner and reception.

“I used to think back on those days and wonder if I would have done it again,” Love said during the dinner and reception. “I know I would have. It had to be done; somebody had to be first. We helped pave the way not only for our own children, but also for all the others who came behind us. And that made it all worthwhile.”

Current university president David Rudd released the following statement:

"We extended our sympathies to the families of Eleanor Gandy and Rose Blakney Love. As we continue to grow as a University, we hope the courage and strength shown by these two groundbreaking students will inspire future generations to stand up for what they believe in, and to fight for social justice."

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