The first black student from Rock Springs to graduate from the University of Wyoming


Bonnie Mae Fermon, a resident of Rock Springs, was the first black student to graduate from the University of Wyoming with a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1947.

Wyo4News staff, [email protected] [PRESS RELEASE]

February 1, 2024 — February is Black History Month, and the Sweetwater County Historical Museum is recognizing someone very special – the daughter of a Rock Springs coal miner was the first Black student to graduate with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wyoming.

Bonnie Mae Fermon, the daughter of Benjamin Franklin Fermon and Jessie Fermon (formerly Jessie Anderson), graduated from Rock Springs High School in 1944. She went on to study at the University of Wyoming, graduating with a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1947, as reported in the Laramie Republican-Boomerang’s edition of November 17, 1947. She earned her master’s degree from Oberlin College in Ohio in 1950, the year she married Lendell Alston in Oakland, California. She died in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1977 of breast cancer at age 52.

The Fermons lived on Booker Avenue in Rock Springs. Benjamin Fermon worked for Union Pacific Coal from 1919 to his death in 1942; his last U.P. Coal position was that of a Pit Car Loaderman at the Number 8 Mine.