Here’s why it was fitting that Auburn renamed Eagle Hall after his first black student to graduate | Education
Senior Vice President of Student Affairs Bobby Woodard said the choice of the specialty building made sense “because that’s where we have our best and brightest.
More than that, he recognizes the contributions Matthews made not only to Auburn, but to young women and people of color in universities around the world, said Gammiel Poindexter, a longtime friend and former classmate.
“I guess it was a period of isolation for her, and I say this because I can imagine that here in 1965 (Auburn) wasn’t much different from UI in 1961,” Poindexter said, recalling their experience as two of a handful of young women of color on this large campus in Bloomington, India. “There is a tremendous amount of isolation that you get up in in the morning and you might not have a soul talking to you all day.
“You wouldn’t have another black or maybe sometimes another woman in your class, but you keep moving forward,” said Poindexter, a retired judge from Virginia.
“I don’t know how to express to you how I felt walking up those steps and looking up to see the name of Dr Josetta Brittain Matthews written on this building,” Poindexter said. “It was an experience.”
Matthews’ daughter, Heidi B. Wright, recently joined Auburn’s special education faculty. She said her mother would be moved to have a building with her name on it.