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Although he’s managed to own businesses, work for the government, coach soccer, raise four kids and publish several successful novels — all with only a high school diploma — student Ashley “Blue” Cole says his story is far from ending.
A new commemorative marker on Georgia Southern University’s campus pays tribute to a special part of Georgia Southern’s history and the University’s first African-American students who courageously paved the way and provided hope for a better way of life for students who followed. The Integration of Georgia Southern marker, prominently placed on Sweetheart Circle in front of the University’s Marvin Pittman Administration Building, recognizes the efforts of the African-American students who, in their pursuit of higher education entered an inhospitable environment, counted the costs and found education worth it.
Georgia Southern Stories
Abner Cope was the first African-American student to graduate with a fine arts degree from Georgia Southern. This year, the 1974 graduate returned to Statesboro - after an award-winning career as a portrait painter and professor - for the first local showing of his work since he earned his degree. "I felt inspired to stay with art, and was convinced that it was for me," he said. "I credit Georgia Southern for that inspiration."
At 84 years old, Howard Cohen has been working the weights for nearly 70 years. The Georgia Southern alumnus has won multiple trophies, medals, awards and accolades - including 12 world, 18 Pan American and 28 USA National titles. He still trains for at least an hour three times a week at the Anderson/Cohen Weightlifting Center in Savannah, noting "Anything that makes you look better and feel better, has to be good."