The first Harvard diploma ever to be awarded to an African American graduate is to cross the block at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers in Chicago on August 6 with a $10,000-15,000 estimate.
Richard T Greener (1844-1922) attended Harvard between 1865 and 1870, before going on to teach at the University of South Carolina.
His success led to a gradual increase in the enrolment of black students at the prestigious Ivy League school.
Mary Kohnke, director of fine books and manuscripts at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers, commented: "Greener's Harvard diploma is a symbol of the power of the individual spirit to overcome incredible prejudice and break down institutional and social barriers."
The diploma was discovered last year among an archive of Greener's papers in a house in Chicago that was scheduled for demolition.
The find led to controversy as an argument ensued over where the papers should be housed. Eventually two lots pertaining to the USC were sold to the institution for a total of $52,000.
The finder had threatened to burn the rest of the collection after haggling with Harvard over its value, although he later decided to consign it at auction instead.
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