Grinnell College names building after first black woman to graduate

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Grinnell College took 91 years to graduate its first black student.

Eighty-five years later, and with increasing recognition as a figure in the university’s history, he is still around to tell his story.

Edith Renfrow Smith, 108, was honored Monday when college leaders announced she would be the namesake for the new Civic Engagement Quad at Iowa’s prestigious liberal arts school, founded in 1846.

Smith remains healthy and engaged, even though she is one of the oldest Americans and has been one of the subjects of a SuperAging study from Northwestern University since 2016, as featured on the “Today” show. Speaking to the Des Moines Register, she said she is thrilled not only to have the university bestow her honor on her, but that she is here to appreciate it.