For Richard Henry Green, recently declared to have been Yale College’s first known African-American graduate, fame, or at least the certainty of his claim on history, was fleeting.
Just last month, an Americana specialist at the Swann Auction Galleries made public the discovery that Mr. Green, the son of a New Haven bootmaker, had attended Yale 17 years before Edward Bouchet, an 1874 graduate previously thought to have broken its color barrier. But while Mr. Bouchet spent a century and a half on that pedestal, his accomplishments praised with every honor, from academic symposiums to undergraduate fellowships to a portrait in Yale’s main library, the scant weeks since Mr. Green unseated him have brought nothing but new challengers.
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