June 24, 2024

The Virginia Tech community is grieving the loss of Irving Peddrew III, who passed away at 88 on May 11.

Peddrew made history as the first Black student admitted to Virginia Tech and any predominantly white four-year institution in the 11 former Confederate states, according to Virginia Tech.

During his time at the university, Peddrew was the sole Black student among 3,322 and had to live and eat off-campus, attending a year before the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling.

He left the university after his junior year but was awarded an honorary degree in engineering in 2016.

Peddrew inspired other Black students to attend Virginia Tech, including Charlie L. Yates, the first Black graduate of the university.

In 2003, a dormitory was renamed Peddrew-Yates Hall, which houses over 200 students and serves as the center for the Black culture living-learning community, Ujima.

Virginia Tech community mourns loss of Irving Peddrew III

He was the keynote speaker for the 2017 graduation and was honored as the 2023 class ring namesake, after missing his own Ring Dance due to rumors that a nearby women’s college would not attend if he participated.

Ed Baine, rector of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors and a member of the Class of 1995, highlighted Peddrew’s impact on the university’s website.

“It takes a special person to be a pioneer,” said Baine. “I’m grateful to Irving Peddrew who opened the door for thousands of Black students at Virginia Tech. Although he chose to leave after three years, he repeatedly returned to help connect our community. He was a cherished member of the Hokie family, and we extend our condolences to his family. He will be greatly missed.”

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