2022-23 BTC Calendar: Robert Walker Lee and Doris Harper Allen


06-sept-harper-allen-lee-inset.jpgBoth Robert Walker Lee and Doris Harper Allen (’19H) were overlooked in their own times, but today are recognized as trailblazers for equality. With the renaming of Harper Allen Lee Hall on the Quad, a new generation is learning about Lee, a popular maintenance man who served from 1909-29, helping to shape the newly-formed Normal and Industrial School for Women at Harrisonburg. Remembered for his work ethic and intellect, Lee sometimes wrote inspirational quotations on campus blackboards, despite laws limiting his access to formal education. Decades later, a state law barred Allen from attending Madison College. Then hired by President G. Tyler Miller as a cook, she went on to graduate from Marshall University, becoming an accomplished teacher, author and community activist. Allen was instrumental in the revitalization of Harrisonburg’s Newtown neighborhood and was awarded an honorary doctorate from JMU in 2019. 

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Published: Monday, March 15, 2021

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 24, 2022

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