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Winthrop Firsts

First African-American Students

Cynthia Plair Roddey ’67

April 6, 1940 - Present

2014: Cynthia Plair Roddey

Cynthia Plair Roddey ’67 was Winthrop’s first African-American graduate student, and she is widely acknowledged as the first African-American woman to enroll at the university. She came to Winthrop in the summer of 1964 with two bachelor’s degrees from Johnson C. Smith University, where she worked as an assistant in the library. Her connections to Winthrop run deep: Her grandfather helped build the university. Dr. Roddey, a married teacher with two children at the time of her enrollment, went on to earn her M.A.T. in library science at Winthrop.

Dr. Roddey, the daughter of two educators, later earned a doctorate in ministry. Today she serves as co-chair of Clinton College’s Department of Liberal Arts. She has worked in education – every grade from kindergarten through college level – for more than 30 years.1994: Roddey speaking at Winthrop University

The Catawba, S.C., native’s legacy lives on at her alma mater. She is the former advisor to the Xi Beta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and she served previously on Winthrop’s first Black Alumni Advisory Committee. The Roddey-McMillan Record, a monthly multicultural student newspaper, bears her name.

Dr. Roddey has continued to give her time to Winthrop. She has participated in various panels to discuss her Winthrop experience and integration, and to offer advice and words of wisdom to current students.

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