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Ram family remembers Lorraine Morton ’38

Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) is remembering Lorraine Hairston Morton ’38, a pioneer who became the first African-American mayor of Evanston, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago.

Morton, 99, passed away on Saturday, Sept. 8.

Morton, a native of Winston-Salem and the youngest of 10 children, earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from what was then Winston-Salem Teachers College in 1938.

Soon after, she moved to Evanston to pursue a graduate degree in education from Northwestern University. In the early 1960s, she became one of the first teachers in Evanston to break the public school color barrier.

Morton later became principal of the integrated Haven Middle School, according to The Chicago Tribune.

She became an alderman in 1983. After serving as an educator for more than 30 years, she retired in 1989 to focus on her political career. By 1993, she was elected as Evanston’s first African-American mayor. She led the city for 16 years, becoming the longest-serving mayor in the city’s history.

“Mrs. Morton represents the character and commitment that is hallmark to the Ram Family,” said WSSU Chancellor Elwood L. Robinson. “Through her decades of service as an educator and public servant, she demonstrated a lifelong commitment to WSSU’s motto, ‘Enter to Learn. Depart to Serve. ' ”

In 2017, Morton was featured in an Archway Magazine's 125th anniversary issue as one of “Eight Rams who changed history.”

Morton also continued to support her alma mater. In 2010, the Lorraine Hairston Morton Endowed Scholarship was established through the WSSU Foundation in her honor for full-time education majors who are committed to community service. 

Photo of Loraine Morton

Lorraine Morton

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