The Daily Illini

Church plaque to honor Albert R. Lee

Danita M.B. Brown Young, vice chancellor for student affairs, is presenting a plaque to the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in honor of  Albert R. Lee, the first African American employee at the University, who attended for 36 years.

“If it weren’t for (Lee), many black students wouldn’t have graduated, let alone been admitted,” Brown Young said.

Brown Young said she is honored and humbled to be presenting the plaque to the Bethel A.M.E  Church.

According to a press release, Lee is remembered at the University as the dean of African American students, where he served for over 50 years. He started his career at the university as a messenger for the Office of the President.

Because of all his work with students, Lee really belonged to student affairs, Brown Young said.

During Lee’s time at the University, black students were not allowed to live on campus, she said. Through Bethel A.M.E Church, he was able to assist black students in finding housing.

“(The church) was very instrumental in the community. It was a place of reference for black students,” Brown Young said.

Bethel A.M.E. church also played a role of support in the community, she said.  

Lee was the president of the choir and was a Sunday school superintendent at Bethel A.M.E church. 

The presentation of the plaque will be on Friday and is a part of a bigger event that will feature other speakers from around the country and his family.  

“He really was a true hero and a good advocate,” Brown Young said. “We definitely stand on the shoulders of Mr. Lee.”

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