LeRoy Frasier, one of the first three black undergraduate students to successfully challenge racial segregation at North Carolina’s flagship public university, has passed away at the age of 80.
Family members confirmed on Tuesday that Frasier died on Dec. 29 at a hospital in New York City after suffering heart failure, according to the Associated Press.
Frasier, along with his brother Ralph, and John Lewis Brandon, were students at Hillside High School in Durham when they took the chance to apply at the still-segregated UNC-Chapel Hill in 1955.
While four black students had been admitted to UNC’s law school when the Frasiers and Brandon applied, the AP notes, no black undergraduates had been accepted. Some students from the university came to the Durham Committee on Negro Affairs searching for students to challenge the school in light of the landmark ruling of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.
The school released a statement on Tuesday on LeRoy Frasier’s death, noting his accomplishments.
“LeRoy was a true pioneer and historic figure in Carolina’s history and his legacy of leadership, courage and self-sacrifice made a lasting impact on our University community,” Chancellor Carol L. Folt said in the statement. “LeRoy’s contributions to Carolina will live on through our students who receive scholarships bearing his name.”