Building a Legacy: A Sense of Place for the First Residential African Americans at William & Mary

When Karen Ely, Lynn Briley, and Janet Brown Strafer arrived at the College of William & Mary in 1967, they did not realize the impact their presence would have. Ely, Briley and Brown Strafer (the Legacy 3) would become the first residential African American students at the College. From their corner room in the basement of Jefferson Hall to the Wren Building, these women carved spaces for themselves and for those African American students who would follow.


For this Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend Branch Out Alternative Break, we worked with the Lemon Project to interview Ely, Briley and Brown Strafer about their interactions with spaces and places at William & Mary. Though their stories reflect distinct barriers and challenges, they were also adamant that they had a normal college experience. They put their academics first, they enjoyed the beautiful campus, and they found friends and places to study. In the interviews, the students asked the Legacy 3 about three facets of student life: residential, academic, and social. Over time, the women’s experiences added layers of meaning to the spaces we currently share as a campus.


Ty’leik Brandon

Marina Schlosser

Lydia Dolvin

Zoe Mollencop

Angela Tiangco

Claudia Segura

Shivani Gupta

Ka’myia Gunn

Angela Rose West

Leonor Grave

Katherine Webb

Dana Moore

Ravynn Stringfield

Ari Weinberg

Adrienne Resha

Sarah Thomas