In the mid-twentieth century, Washington Hall was the home of William & Mary's education courses. This is where, during the summer of 1951, Hulon Willis Sr. began his master's degree and became the first African American to attend the College of William & Mary. Willis was a graduate of what was then Virginia Union College and taught in Norfolk. In 1956, Willis graduated with his M.Ed. with a specialization in physical education. He was the second African American to graduate from the College. His son and granddaughter would eventually attend William & Mary. In 1992, Willis was honored when the Hulon Willis Alumni Association, William & Mary's African American alumni group, was named in his honor.

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