The Leah Brock McCartney Project

43% of $400,000 goal
This campaign ended on June 30, 2023, but you can still make a gift to George Washington University by clicking here!

When Dr. Jordan S. West taught Black Feminist Theory—Lemons into Lemonade: Black Women in the U.S. during the Fall 2019 semester, her students were surprised to learn an unknown piece of history: the story of the late Judge Leah Brock McCartney, the first Black woman to graduate from the George Washington University.

Inspired by McCartney’s historic role at GW, Naseem Haamid, CCAS B.A. ’21, and Owen Manning, GWSB B.B.A. ’21, developed a vision to share this important information in the form of art — through a mosaic on GW's campus. As the course ended and the nation reckoned with racial injustice after the murder of George Floyd and multiple Black women, Black trans people, and Black men, Haamid and Manning moved forward with fundraising for the public art piece by spreading awareness of Judge McCartney and honoring the legacy of Black women at GW.

Local Black woman artist Chanel Compton has designed a rendering of the ceramic tile and glass mosaic, which would measure approximately 17 x 34 feet and be installed on the eastern façade of the Gelman Library, where it would be visible from H Street and Kogan Plaza in the heart of GW’s Foggy Bottom Campus.

This project needs the support of the GW community to make it a reality. Show your support for honoring Judge McCartney, GW's first Black alumna, and the legacy of Black women at GW by donating to the project.

About Leah Brock McCartney

Leah Brock McCartney was born in 1911 in Ellisville, Mississippi.

In 1938, she graduated from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, with a B.S. in education, and spent years working as a teacher.

She enrolled in Washington, D.C.’s National University School of Law in 1951, graduating with an L.L.B. (Bachelor of Laws) in 1954 with the highest grade point average in her third-year class. At the time, the L.L.B. was the primary law degree in the United States.

National University merged with the George Washington University in summer 1954, becoming the National Law Center at The George Washington University. This merger is conside

red the precipitating event in the desegregation of GW, as National University had already been open to students of color, like McCartney.

Therefore, when she graduated in November 1954 as part of the first post-merger graduating class, Leah Brock McCartney was the first Black alumna of the George Washington University.

437 days ago by Daniel Burgner
Meet the Artist

Chanel Compton was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and has had a love for art since she was a child. Today, she lives by the firm belief that public art is a powerful tool for community building and wellness. Compton completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University and a Master of Arts Management at American University.

As a public artist, she is inspired by African-American and Diasporic history and community life. Compton has led youth and community-based public art projects in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and throughout Brazil.

Compton lives and has a home art studio in Baltimore, Maryland, and serves as the Executive Director for the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture and the Banneker-Douglass Museum.

437 days ago by Zhenya Stein

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