LSU Graduate School Named in Honor of Dr. Pinkie Gordon Lane
December 9, 2022
Dear Graduate School Community,
I am pleased to share that the LSU Board of Supervisors met today and voted unanimously to bestow the name Dr. Pinkie Gordon Lane upon the Graduate School. This honorific recognizes the impact of Dr. Pinkie Gordon Lane, the first Black student to receive a Ph.D. from LSU.
Pinkie Gordon Lane was born January 13, 1923, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She attended Spelman College and graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in English in 1949. Upon graduation, she taught high school English for six years across schools in Georgia and Florida. She then pursued a Master’s in English from Atlanta University in 1956. After receiving her masters, she accepted her first position as a college instructor at Leland College in Baker, Louisiana. She remained in that post until she joined the English Department at Southern University in 1959. While teaching at Southern, Dr. Lane enrolled at LSU and became the first African American woman to earn a doctoral degree from the University in 1967. She was appointed Southern’s first female English Department Chair in 1974 and served in that role until her retirement in 1986.
Dr. Lane was not only known for her work as an educator. She was a poet and author, expressing her feelings as a Black woman through her writings promoting a positive image for fellow Black poets. Her first volume of poems, titled “Wind Thoughts,” was published in 1972, but it was her second volume, “The Mystic Female,” that led Dr. Lane’s national audience to grow and led to her work being nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1979. Her contributions, publications, and skills as a poet led Governor Buddy Roemer to appoint her as Louisiana’s first Black Poet Laureate in 1989. She was then presented with the NAACP Image Award in 1990.
Her work educating youth, her dedication to furthering her own education, no matter the odds, and her contributions to American literature and poetry, embodies the message of Scholarship First and the spirit of graduate studies. Honoring Black pioneers like Dr. Lane and recognizing their courage, strength, and formidable spirit strengthens our community as a whole. The Board has also voted to honor several other remarkable individuals, naming the Lutrill and Pearl Payne School of Education and Julian T. White Hall. I hope you’ll take a moment to learn more about these individuals and their inspirational stories of success through incredible perseverance, and I look forward to celebrating the naming of the Dr. Pinkie Gordon Lane Graduate School with you all in-person early next year.
William F. Tate IV