Award Profile: Otto White Jr. ’65

Otto White Jr. ’65

2019 Lassiter Lee McKissick Walker Trailblazer Award

When Otto enrolled at the University of North Carolina in 1961, he became one of the first undergraduate African-American students at Carolina, or at any other predominantly white university in the southern United States.

Otto was born and grew up in New Bern, and graduated from the all Black J. T. Barber High School in his hometown before entering Carolina. He bonded with the small group of other African-American students on campus, and began what was to become a lifetime venture on the vanguard of integration and fighting for justice.

While at UNC, he was arrested several times for participating in protests that were designed to bring down the walls of segregation in Chapel Hill and in nearby Durham. However, he also applied himself in the classroom and earned a degree in chemistry in 1965, before going on to a career filled with numerous accomplishments. He has now retired from a career in government service, working primarily in the state of New York. He and his wife, Lucille, now reside in her hometown of Chapel Hill.  They have two adult children and one grandchild.

Award citation will be posted after the awards gala.