Lucy Diggs Slowe

Lucy Diggs Slowe was a woman of many "firsts." Slowe was one of the original sixteen founders of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the first sorority founded by African American women. In 1922, Slowe was appointed the first Dean of Women at Howard University. In addition, she created and led two professional associations to support college administrators. Slowe was also a tennis champion, winning the national title of the American Tennis Association's first tournament in 1917, the first African American woman to win a major sports title.

Lucy Diggs Slowe

Lucy Diggs Slowe was a  founding member of the American Tennis Association (ATA) in 1916. In 1917, she won the inaugural ATA championship match at Druid Hill Park in Baltimore, Maryland, becoming the first African American woman to win a national championship in any sport, paving the way for Althea Gibson, who later broke the International Tennis color line. Ms. Slowe was also a 17-time tennis champion.


As a Howard University undergraduate student in 1908, Ms. Slowe was one of the original sixteen founders of the first Greek-letter sorority for black women, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Incorporated (AKA), and served as the chapter’s first president. Later that year, Lucy graduated from Howard University as class valedictorian.


Diggs Slowe continued her education, graduating with an M.A. from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts and Science in New York in 1915. Later, she became the first Dean of Women for Howard University in 1922. In 1924 Slowe helped organize the National Association of College Women and served as its first president, which focused on raising the standards in colleges for black women, developing women faculty, and securing scholarships. Ms. Slowe, in 1935 became one of the organizers of the National Council of Negro Women and its first secretary.

Lucy Diggs Slowe