Lucile Berkeley Buchanan Jones's graduation portrait from the State Normal School (now the University of Northern Colorado) in 1905.

 

Courtesy of the Buchanan Archives

Lucile Berkeley Buchanan Jones, the daughter of freed slaves, seized on the opportunities that weren’t available to her parents.

In the process, she cleared a lot of firsts. She became the first black graduate of what is now the University of Northern Colorado in 1905. Then in 1918, Jones became the first black woman to graduate from CU Boulder. 

Despite her successes, when Jones died at the age of 105 in 1989, she was buried in an unmarked grave.

That didn't sit well with Polly Bugros McLean, an author and associate professor of media studies at CU Boulder. So McLean dived into Jones' story, and has now written a book about her called, “Remembering Lucile: A Virginia Family’s Rise From Slavery And A Legacy Forged A Mile High.” McLean talked to Colorado Matters about the woman behind so many Colorado higher education achievements.