An African-American man denied a high school diploma for going to a “white” beach finally received his diploma 55 years later.
Alva Earley was set to graduate from Galesburg High School in June 1959 when he and some friends discussed going to North Lake Storey Beach to have a picnic.
There was an unwritten rule at the time: Black people were not allowed to go there. He went anyways, and was later told he would not graduate or go to college.
He shared his story with a few friends last fall, and they called on the school superintendent to do something.
“When they requested that I look it up, they were correct that he had enough credits to graduate, had his transcripts signed and everything,” school superintendent Bart Arthur said. “He did what he accomplished, and we need to honor that.”
Earley said his decision had serious consequences. He had been accepted to the University of Chicago and Northwestern University.