William & Mary's first black residential students matriculated in 1967. Karen Ely, Janet Brown, and Lynn Briley - all women - lived together in the newly renovated basement of Jefferson Hall. Since then, African American representation at the university has increased to approximately seven percent of William and Mary’s undergraduate student body as of 2017.

In 2011, the three women were honored for the first time by the Hulon Willis Alumni Association during Homecoming Weekend. That same year the three were commemorated with a plaque which was placed in the basement of Jefferson Hall. Today the plaque can be found on the first floor of Jefferson.

Throughout the 2017-18 academic year, William & Mary commemorated 50 Years of African Americans in Residence with events around campus. During the 2017 Homecoming Parade, the Karen, Lynn and Janet served as the Grand Marshals. The same weekend, the women were presented with engraved bricks at William & Mary's Alumni House.

Janet Brown Stafer’s account of her experience as one of the three women who lived in Jefferson Hall can be found in Special Collection's oral history collection; “Historically, the responsibility for keeping men within the moral boundaries has somehow rested with women, by keeping the women in their place out of sight in the dorm locked away, was that helping to keep the men within their social moral boundaries? We were bearing that burden instead of putting the responsibility where it belonged with the men.”



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