Irving Peddrew to discuss experience as first Black student at Virginia Tech

New River Valley News
Irving Linwood Peddrew III was the first Black Student admitted to Virginia Tech. (Photo: Courtesy Virginia Tech)

Irving Linwood Peddrew III was the first Black Student admitted to Virginia Tech. (Photo: Courtesy Virginia Tech)

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — The first Black student admitted to Virginia Tech, Irving Linwood Peddrew III, is set to participate in a #VTUnfinished Conversation Wednesday as he discusses his journey to the Blacksburg university and his experience during his time there.

According to Virginia Tech, Peddrew was an honor student at his all-Black high school in Hampton before he began his post-secondary education in 1953 as an electrical engineering major and member of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets.

However, school officials say Peddrew was the only Black student among the university’s 3,322 students that year.

In addition, during his three years at Virginia Tech, the university says Peddrew experienced exclusion and harassment, was prohibited from living on campus and eating in the dining halls, and walked several miles a day because he was staying with a middle-aged Black couple who lived a mile from campus.

Peddrew studied three years at Virginia Tech, but he did not complete his degree program before moving to California to join the workforce, according to school officials.

However, Peddrew reportedly received an honorary degree from Virginia Tech and was recognized at the 2016 spring commencement.  

Even though Virginia Tech only accepted one Black student in 1953, the university says 571 Black students were welcomed onto campus in 2020, making up eight percent of the entering class.

You can watch the full conversation between Peddrew and Menah Pratt Clarke — vice president for strategic affairs and diversity — on the InclusiveVT YouTube channel starting at noon on Wednesday, Dec. 9.

In the past, Virginia Tech’s Unfinished Conversations on Race virtual series has featured guests such as Whit Babcock, athletic director at Virginia Tech, as well as Jodie Geddes and Thomas Norman DeWolf, the authors of “The Little Book of Racial Healing.”

You can watch the full series and past segments on the InclusiveVT YouTube channel.

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