By all accounts, Theodore Milton Selden was headed for greatness.
He graduated first in his class from the historically black Lincoln University and summa cum laude from Dartmouth College, earning two bachelor’s degrees and admission to the exclusive Phi Beta Kappa honor society. Selden enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and was among the first African Americans to attend the prestigious school.
Then came the July day in 1922 that ended everything. The 23-year-old, who had been working as a Pullman porter while attending school, was aboard a midnight train from Philadelphia to Atlantic City that derailed about halfway. His severely burned body was identified by a bit of gold – what remained of his Phi Beta Kappa key, found nearby.