Lucy Diggs Slowe window
Howard University chapel
Sixth Street & Howard Place, N.W.
Lucy Diggs Slowe (1883-1937) was the first dean of women at Howard University, a position she held from 1922 until her death. A window in the university chapel (see above) honors her memory. As dean, Slowe worked for empowerment of women, urging female students into the social sciences and other (at that time) nontraditional fields. Concerned for the safety of young women in the “big city,” Slowe expanded the university’s dorm facilities so women could live on campus. Outspoken and headstrong, Slowe often locked horns with the university president over the welfare of the female students.
Slowe shared a home at 1256 Kearney Street, N.E., with her life partner, writer and teacher Mary Powell Burrill, who had earlier been involved with Angelina Weld Grimke. Their residence was an informal gathering place for young Howard women, many of whom idolized their intrepid dean. In a bid to curb her power, Howard’s president once suggested that Slowe herself live in a dorm – a seemingly homophobic attempt to break up the household that had become a source of strength for her.