Prairie View Students March to Restore Voting Rights February 25, 2008Posted by twilightandreason in African American Professors, African American Students, Black Colleges, Black Students, Primary Elections, race, racism, Student Voters, Waller County.
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Down in Waller County, Texas it’s started to look an awful lot like the bad old days of poll taxes, grandfather clauses, and literacy tests. Back in the bad old days, the white folks could brag that “their Blacks” knew their place, and that place did not include the voting booth.
At a time when unprecedented young people are flocking to the polls to cast their vote for two candidates whose very presence as Democratic front runners encourages us toward “the audacity of hope” in a new future, Waller County voting officials have chosen not to support students involvement in the political process, but — instead — to audaciously and shamelessly resurrect a racist politics of disenfrancishement that should have been buried along with blackface minstrelsy and Jim Crow.
In my blog post of January 7, 2008, I wrote of the current backlash against the growing participation of student voters in the the various state primaries. My roster of these efforts includes proposed legislation from the GOP side of the aisle and derisive comments about college voters form select and high profile Democrat. Now I must add to that list the more hands-on approach of Waller County’s voting officials, whose inexplicable decision to “cut early-voting sites from a half dozen throughout the county to one in Hempstead,” about 7 milse from the historically Black Prairie View A&M University, home to approximately 3000 registered voters (source: The Houston Chronicle), has prompted a surge of student activism.
On Tuesday, February 21, more than 2000 Prairie View students (according to police estimates) and their supports held a 7 mile march to the polls in order to protest the lack of a polling place on the 7000-student campus. Just last week the U.S. Department of Justice intervened and Waller county added three temporary polling places for early voting.
Students protested the absence of an early voting location on or near the campus, a problem which — strictly speaking — was not immediately solved by the county’s promise to add additional temporary polling sites. The Texas presidential primary is on March 4, but the county’s temporary pollings sites only opened on February 22, three days after on-site early voting had already begun throughout the state. Tuesday’s march coincided with the opening of poll sites for early voting across Texas.
Viewed in the context of other recent efforts to discourage student voting, it might appear that the actions of Waller County officials are unrelated to the fact that Prairie View A&M has an overwhelmingly Black student body. Given that most students, reglardles of race, vote for Democrats, this could be seen as an effort to suppress the Democratic vote in this region. In Texas, however, primary voters only vote within their party; and so the desire suppress the student vote in Waller County can be nothing but race-based. To limit the A&M student vote at the primary stage is to disenfranchise substantial numbers of likely Black voters.
In short, then, the net effect of Waller County’s suspicious actions would be to limit polling access for African American voters who, like most young voters this primary season, are likely to vote for Obama, the African American presidential candidate. If Waller County officials are not willing to acknowledge that this was their main goal (to undercut Black voters’ ability to cast votes for a Black candidate), then they should at least concede that it was viewed as a desirable side-effect of their polling site maneuverings.
To read more on this story, see the following coverage:
Black Milestones in Higher Education: Navy Edition February 23, 2008Posted by twilightandreason in African American Professors, Annapolis, Black Faculty, Black Students, Bruce Grooms, Higher Education, Janie L. Mines, John Henry Conyers, John McCain, Samuel Massie, U.S. Naval Academy, Wesley Brown.
Tags: Annapolis, Black History, Black Students, Bruce Grooms, Higher Education, Janie L. Mines, John Henry Conyers, John McCain, Jr., Lucien V. Alexis, race, United States Navel Academy, Wesley A. Brown
In honor of primary season I’ve decided — at least momentarily — to focus my Black Milestones in Higher Education series on the undergraduate alma maters of the major presidential candidates up for nomination.
The series begins with the U.S. Naval Academy (Annapolis), the undergraduate alma mater of Republican front runner John McCain.
History and Overview: The United States Naval Academy was founded in 1845 by then Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft. Called the Naval School and located on ten acres of land in Annapolis, Maryland, it enrolled 50 students, taught by 7 professors. In 1850, the institution changed its name to the U.S. Naval Academy and added hands-on maritime training to its curriculum.
Between 1872 and 1949, six Black male students enrolled at the academy, but it was not until the latter year that the Academy saw its first African American graduate. The academy enrolled its first women students in 1976, and saw its first Black female graduate in 1981.
Today the U.S. Naval Academy enrolls over 4000 students. Out of the 1227 students who matriculated in the fall of 2007, only 69 were African American.
Black Milestones at the U.S. Naval Academy:
- 1872 — John Henry Conyers becomes the first African American to enroll in the U.S. Naval Academy. Conyers experiences shunning from the other cadets and leaves the academy the following year due to academic difficulties.
- 1941 — Black Harvard University lacrosse player Lucien V. Alexis, Jr. is forced to sit on the sidelines during at game against Navy because the academy does not permit Black people on its playing fields.
- 1949 — Wesley A. Brown becomes the first African American to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy.
- 1966 — Professor Samuel P. Massie, Jr joins the Department of Chemistry to become the first African American faculty member at the U.S. Naval Academy.
- 1976 — Janie L. Mines becomes the first African American woman to enter the U.S. Naval Academy. She is the sole African American out of 81 women admitted during this, the first year that the Academy opens its doors to women.
- 1981 — Janie L. Mines becomes the first African American woman to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy.
- 2005 — Rear Admiral Bruce Grooms, a 1980 Annapolis graduate, becomes the first African American Commandant of the U.S. Naval Academy, and the highest ranking African American in the history of the institution. At the time that he became Commandant, Rear Admiral Grooms held the rank of Captain.
- 2006 — The U.S. Naval Academy breaks ground on the Wesley Brown Field House, named in honor its first African American graduate. The field house is a 140,000 square foot atheltic facility.
Then Captain Bruce Grooms, the first African American Commandant of the U.S. Naval Academy, and Wesley A. Brown, the first African American to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy, break ground on the Wesley Brown Field House.
Posted by Ajuan Mance
Black Academics Weigh in on Hillary Clinton February 22, 2008Posted by twilightandreason in African American Professors, Black Faculty, Cornel West, Gender, Hillary Clinton, Obama, race, Shelby Steele.
The Clinton campaign, like the Obama campaign, is paving new political terrain, simply by virtue of the fact that the candidate is something other that a white male; and while bloggers, columnists, and pundits from all over the political spectrum are actively encouraging voters to look past race and gender and, instead, to vote based on the candidates’ records and ideas, there is no doubt that in this nation — one in which race and gender have far too long been the primary measures by which rights and wealth and granted — race and gender politics do and will continue to inform how Clinton and Obama, their parties, their advisors, and the electorate engage with both of these leading Democratic and their ideas.
Below are some of the most compelling and provocative statements by Black academics on the election and its link to the racial and sexual politics of this nation:
- from “Hillary’s Scarlet O’Hara Act: Why Some of Us Aren’t Falling For It,” on TheRoot.com, by Melissa Harris-Lacewell, associate professor of politics and African American studies at Princeton University
There’s been a lot of talk about women and their choices since Super Tuesday, when African American women overwhelmingly voted for Sen. Barack Obama, while white women picked Sen. Hillary Clinton. Some pundits automatically concluded that “race trumped gender” among black women. I hate this analysis because it relegates black women to junior-partner status in political struggles. It is not that simple. A lot of people have tried to gently explain the divide, so I’m just going to put this out there: Sister voters have a beef with white women like Clinton that is both racial and gendered. It is not about choosing race; it is about rejecting Hillary’s Scarlett O’Hara act.
Black women voters are rejecting Hillary Clinton because her ascendance is not a liberating symbol. Her tears are not moving. Her voice does not resonate. Throughout history, privileged white women, attached at the hip to their husband’s power and influence, have been complicit in black women’s oppression. Many African American women are simply refusing to play Mammy to Hillary.
Media have cast the choice in the current election as a simple binary between race and gender. But those who claim that black women are ignoring gender issues by voting for Barack just don’t get it. Hillary cannot have black women’s allegiance for free. Black women will not be relegated to the status of supportive Mammy, easing the way for privileged white women to enter the halls of power.
Black feminist politics is not simple identity politics. It is not about letting brothers handle the race stuff, or about letting white women dominate the gender stuff. The black woman’s fight is on all fronts. Sisters resist the ways that black male leaders try to silence women’s issues and squash female leadership. At the same time, black women challenge white women who want to claim black women’s allegiance without acknowledging the realities of racism. They will not be drawn into any simple allegiance that refuses to account for their full humanity and citizenship.
- from “Hillary or Billary? The Clintons’ Ugly Gender Politics,” on BlackProf.com, by Marc Lamont Hill, assistant professor of urban education and American studies at Temple University
Now that Obama has regained his momentum, the Clintons seem prepared to return to the strategy of promoting Hillary as an experienced politician with more than a matrimonial connection to the White House. Although this approach may win Hillary the presidency, it will do little to destroy controlling images of women as extensions of male desire and ambition.
Contrary to what Hillary has said, this is the real glass ceiling that women must crack.
- from “Renowned Princeton Professor Cornel West Assesses the Democratic Presidential Field,” on DemocracyNow.org. Cornel West is the Class of 1943 University Professor of Religion at Princeton.
…I think Hillary Clinton has a long way to go, because she’s carrying a baggage, as it were, of the kind of neoliberalist—the neoliberal project of her husband.
- Shelby Steele on MSNBC’s Hardball, December 7, 2007. Click here to listen to an audio clip. Shelby Steele is the Robert J. and Marion E. Oster Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution.
…she’s doing very well with the Black vote because she identifies with people like Al Sharpton. She identifies with people who African Americans are very comfortable with. In many ways she’s Blacker that Barack Obama is. His primary appeal is still with whites.
Posted by Ajuan Mance
In Higher Ed, There’s More than One Kind of Diversity February 20, 2008Posted by twilightandreason in African American Professors, African American Students, Black Faculty, Black PhDs, Black Students, Business School, Education, Graduate School, Higher Education, race.
2007 may be remembered as the year that intra-racial diversity finally hit the news. From college dailies to academic weeklies to mainstream newspapers, reporters rushed to Harvard and other selective college campuses to address what has been portrayed as the overrepresentation at such schools of the children of Black immigrants and the underrepresentation at those same institutions of the descendants of U.S. Blacks. In so doing, they exposed the failure of college and university admission offices to understand the vast diversity that exists within Blackness, noting that, at Ivy League institutions in particular, outreach and recruitment efforts created in response to the lasting effects of slavery and Jim Crow upon Blacks of U.S. were disproportionately benefitting students of African descent whose parents were born outside of the U.S.
The downside of this reporting is that it could fan the flames of intra-diasporic competition and dissension. The upside is that it underscores the wide range of nationalities, ethnicities, and cultures that constitute the Black population of the United States. As diverse our ethnicities may be, however, we — the Black people of the U.S. — seem to be of one mind (or maybe two) when it comes to choosing a graduate program.
A recent report in the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education (JBHE Weekly Bulletin for 12/17/07) revealed that more than 50 percent of all Black graduate students are enrolled in either business or education programs. This follow passage from the JBHE Bulletin explains the current trend:
A new report from the Graduate Record Examinations Board and the Council of Graduate Schools finds that among all black graduate students, 31 percent were enrolled in graduate education degree programs. Another 22 percent were enrolled in graduate business programs. No other graduate field had more than 10 percent of black graduate students.
These statistics reveal a key tension in Black students’ pursuit of higher education. It is the tension between Black America’s belief in the value of education and Black America’s general ambivalence toward the notion of learning for learning’s sake.
Do not misunderstand where I am going with this assertion. I do not believe that Black people are resistant to or opposed to higher education. In fact, I vehemently reject the accusation by John McWhorter, Bill Cosby, and other prominent Black voices that African Americans somehow associate good grades and the pursuit of education with “acting white.” Indeed, people who pay attention to what African Americans express about their beliefs (as opposed to the insults that angry teens might hurl at their schoolmates) understand that U.S. Black people believe deeply in education — as a ticket to upward mobility, as a stamp of legitimacy necessary for success in a white-dominated workplace, and as a profound rejection of the subordinated status that Euro-dominant mainstream has encouraged us to occupy for so long.
When I say, then, that many Black Americans feel a general ambivalence toward the notion of learning for learning’s sake — toward the acquisition of knowledge undertaken solely for the purpose of knowing and, similiarly, toward undertaking the pursuit of a line of scholarly inquiry as one’s life work — I mean that for many U.S. Blacks the pursuit of higher education is tantamount to upgrading life’s toolkit for success. Education is undertaken pragmatically, and it is embraced as the key which will open the door to post-graduate stability and prosperity.
At the undergraduate level this means that Black business and economics majors outnumber Black science and math majors; Black journalism and communications majors outnumber Black English majors; and history, philosophy, language, music, and art majors are rare or even non-existent.
At the graduate level, business and education are the fields of choice; and thus the cycle is perpetuated. As long as African American graduate students flock to business and education, and as long as they underenroll in other disciplines, there will continue to be a dearth of Black professors in medicine, in law, and in most academic fields. Black students need Black mentors in all fields, to inform them of the possibilities for post-graduate study in those fields, and to help them understand the important links between undergraduate disciplinary studies in English, history, philosophy, and modern languages and success in careers like advertising, law enforcement, politics, and public policy, or to advise them in some of the important ways that majoring not only in the sciences and social sciences, but in the humanities and arts as well can lay a strong foundation for graduate study in medicine, law and — yes — even business.
In my life, it was my direct classroom contact with African American English professors Dorothy Denniston and Michael Harper that made real to me the possibility that my passion for this subject could become a viable career. On the other hand, the absence at my undergraduate institution of Black art professors conveyed to me a completely different message about my other great love, the visual arts. As far as I could see, unless I was wealthy and white, there would be no real work for me as an artmaker; there was no point in even enrolling in a course in that department. Since that time I have, of course, learned differently; and even though I am very happy in my career as a literature professor, I cannot help but wonder how different my life might have been if I had had personal contact with even one Black art professional.
I was lucky. Although I was turned off from pursuing one of my great pleasures, I have found great satisfaction and joy in the pursuit of another of my fields of choice. But how many budding painters, engineers, surgeons, archivists, and legal scholars of African descent will be turned off by the absence of Black mentors and role models in their areas of interest? How many great Black artists or physicists, philosophers or historians put these passions aside in favor of those career paths that appear to be more welcoming to Black people?
Until Black students enroll in medical, law, and Ph.D. programs with the same enthusiasm that they undertake studies toward the M.B.A. and the Ed.D., institutions will have to develop innovative strategies for introducing Black students to the possibilities that exist for success, fulfillment, and career satisfaction beyond the fields of business and education.
As I close this post, I cannot help but think of how much it meant to me to encounter real live Black professors of English. The experience of studying with people of African descent who shared my passion for reading, writing, and thinking about literature was transforming. More than any diploma, award, or academic honor, their reflection of my academic interests and passions validated my pursuit of literature study, during my undergraduate years and for many years after.
I feel great sadness for those Black students who will never have a similar experience. I trust in their capacity to find validation for their interests and affirmation of the possibilities available to them as scholars without the benefit same-race role models; but I still look ahead to the day when no African, African American, or Afro-Caribbean student at any institution will have to wonder whether or not Black folks can succeed. I look ahead to the time when the presence of Black men and women, as full-time, tenure-track faculty in all disciplines, at all institutions will make such questions obsolete.
Posted by Ajuan Mance
Reasons to Be Cheerful: The 5 Best News Stories of 2007 January 9, 2008Posted by twilightandreason in African American Professors, African American Students, Black Colleges, Black Faculty, Black Students, Denzel Washington, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, Good Black News, Higher Education, Imus, IQ, James Watson, race, Ten Best List, Wiley College.
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If I was asked to choose a single phrase to describe the state of Black higher education in 2007, it would have to be, “the changing same.” Also title of Deborah McDowell’s landmark study of Black women’s literature and literary theory (The Changing Same: Black Women’s Literature, Criticism, and Theory), this phrase captures the peculiar contradiction between the perception and the reality of Black people’s involvement in higher education during the year 2007.
Perceptions of Black people’s relationship to college and university education are progressing much more slowly than Black people’s real life achievements in academe, largely because Black academic progress simply depends on supporting African Americans’ pursuit of their goals and dreams, while a shift in the perception of Black people’s role in academe depends on changing the minds of people not only within, but also outside of the African American community, including many who have no vested interest in thinking about Blackness in more progressive ways, and who might even have an investment in maintaining the old biases.
Certain events in 2007 have highlighted this divide between popular (and often racist) perceptions of what Black people can and do accomplish on college campuses and the reality of Black student and faculty achievements in U.S. Higher ed. People like Don Imus (who looked at a basketball team full of hard-working, talented young Black women and saw only “hoes”) and James Watson (who stunned progressive communities in the U.S. and abroad with his unabashed assertion that Black people’s intelligence is genetically impaired) espoused ways of looking Blackness that are mired in centuries-old stereotypes. On the other hand, on college and university campuses across the nation, Black students, faculty, and administrators spent the year achieving their goals and setting new ones, all undaunted by the subtle and not-so-subtle racism that swirled around them.
You don’t have to be a person of African descent to feel cheered by the news stories listed below. If you care about people, education, and the future of our communities, the positive changes that these stories point to will fill you with pride in our Black youth, as wells as pride in our capacity as a nation to rise above the worst of our racist history and to move towards a future full of progress and promise for everyone:
Black women athletes graduate at impressive rates. The November 15th JBHE Weekly Bulletin reported that among Black men and Black women enrolled at U.S. colleges and universities, the graduation rate for athletes is significantly higher than the graduation rate for Black students who are not athletes. Most surprising is the finding that the national graduation rate for Black women student-athletes (64%) is higher than the national graduation rate for all white male students, athletes and non-athletes, alike.
African Americans make “spectacular progress” in the acquisition of master’s degrees. The November 8, 2007 JBHE Weekly Bulletin reported that in the 20 years between 1985 and 2005, the number of African Americans earning master’s degrees from U.S. university nearly quadrupled, from 13,939 to more than 54,000. The most dramatic gains were made among African American women who, in the 2004-05 academic year accounted for 71 percent of the master’s degrees awarded to Black people in the U.S.
Washington-led film project puts the spotlight on Black intellect. On Christmas Day African Americans received a wonderful gift in the form of “The Great Debaters,” the Golden Globe-nominated true story of how a debate team from Wiley College, a small HBCU located in Marshall, Texas, rose from nothing to eventually challenge the dominance of Harvard’s legendary squad. Washington compounded this gift of visibility for a little-known aspect of African American history with a special gift to the College itself, a $1 million donation to help re-establish Wiley’s legendary debate program.
HBCUs lead the nation in faculty diversity. With Black professors making up just under 60% of the faculty, white professors making up another 21 percent, and other ethnic groups making up roughly 17%, historically Black colleges and universities feature the most diverse faculty composition of any grouping of schools in the U.S. As a point of comparison, consider that nationwide over 80% of all college and university faculty are white.
- The rising generation of scholars. Although this story was published in 2008 (this morning, as a matter of fact), I am listing it as one of 2007’s “reasons to be cheerful,” mostly because the young men and women included in the profile of the Diverse Issues in Higher Education “Emerging Scholars” for 2008 are being recognized largely for their achievements during the previous year. Of the eight scholars of color listed here, five of them are African American, all are under 40, and all are intellectual standouts, not simply among their respective ethnic groups, but among all scholars in their fields.
Posted by Ajuan Mance
Black Milestones in Higher Education: Terrapin Edition November 23, 2007Posted by twilightandreason in African American Professors, African American Students, Black History, Black Students, Elaine Johnson, Juanita Jackson Mitchell, Terrapins, University of Maryland.
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History and Overview: The University of Maryland – College Park was founded in 1856. UM admitted it’s first Black undergraduate in 1951. Today Black students make up 13 percent of the University of Maryland ‘s 25, 857 undergraduates and 8 percent of UM’s graduate student body.
Note: All milestones listed below refer to the University of Maryland’s flagship campus at College Park.
- 1850s — The Maryland Agricultural College (later renamed UM – College Park) opens “with slaves constructing the college’s buildings and working on the farms.” Founder Charles B. Calvert is a pro-slave unionist. (Source: University of Maryland Diversity Timeline)
- 1859 — Benjamin Hallowell becomes the first president of the Maryland Agricultural College. An abolitionist, Hallowell accepts his appointment “on the condition that the school not use slave labor on its farms.” (Source: University of Maryland Diversity Timeline)
- 1950 — Parren Mitchell successfully sues the then segregated University of Maryland and becomes the first African American to enroll in graduate courses at UM. Mitchell graduates with an M.A. in sociology in 1952, becoming the first Black student to complete at graduate degree at UM. In 1970 Mitchell would become the first African American to be elected to the U.S. Congress from the state of Maryland.
- 1950 — Juanita Jackson Mitchell becomes the first African-American graduate of the University of Maryland Law School.
- 1951 — Hiram Whittle becomes the first Black undergraduate to enroll at the University of Maryland.
- 1955 — Elaine Johnson becomes the first Black woman to enroll in UM’s undergraduate programs.
- 1964 — The UM administration rejects the application submitted by a student group wishing to open a chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) on campus. The students reorganize as Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and continue to fight against racial segregation.
- 1965 — Billy Jones becomes the first African American basketball player at the University of Maryland, and the first Black athlete in the ACC.
- 1967 — Black Explosion Newspaper is formed as the first African American newspaper at the University of Maryland.
- 1968 — The African American Studies Department opens under the leadership of Mary Frances Berry and John Blassingame.
- 1971 — The Nyumburu Cultural Center is established to serve the cultural, social and intellectual needs of Black students.
- 1982 — John B. Slaughter becomes the first African-American Chancellor of a major state university when he is appointed chancellor of the University of Maryland.
- 2001 — UM establishes the David C. Driskell Center For The Study of The Visual Arts and Culture of African Americans and The African Diaspora<strong</strong. The center is named for the highly respected African American professor and former UM Art department chair, David C. Driskell.
Posted by Ajuan Mance
Black Milestones in Higher Education: Jayhawks Edition November 22, 2007Posted by twilightandreason in African American Professors, African American Students, Black Faculty, Black History, Black PhDs, Black Students, Blogroll, Jayhawks, Kansas.
The University of Kansas opened its doors on September 12, 1866 to an entering class of 55. Ten years later KU admitted its first African American student. It was not until 1885, however, that the first Black enrollee would graduate from the University.
Today Black students make up between 3 and 4 percent of KU’s 28,890 undergraduates, and Black professors make up about 3 percent of the KU faculty. In 2006, the Black graduation rate at KU was 38 percent.
- 1876 — Lizzie Ann Smith becomes the first African American student to enroll at the University of Kansas.
- 1885 — Blanche K. Bruce becomes the first African American to graduate from the University of Kansas.*
- 1936 — John B. McLendon, Jr. becomes the first African American student at the University of Kansas to earn a degree in physical education .
- 1941 — Edward Vernon Williams becomes the first African American to graduate from the University of Kansas Medical School.
- 1952 — LaVannes Squires becomes the first African American basketball player at KU. C. Kermit Phelps becomes the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from KU.
- 1954 — Maurice King becomes the first African American starter in KU basketball history.
- 1968 — Black Student Union is established on the KU campus.
- 1970 — Elmer C. Jackson, Jr. becomes the first African American appointed to the Kansas Board of Regents. In 1975 he becomes the first Black Regents chair.
- 1999 — Andrew B. Williams becomes the first African American to graduate from KU with a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering.
*This Blanche K. Bruce is Blanche Ketene Bruce, not to be confused with Blanche Kelso Bruce, the former slave who went on to become the first African American to serve a full term in the U.S. Senate.
Posted by Ajuan Mance
Black Milestones in Higher Education: Tiger Edition November 21, 2007Posted by twilightandreason in African American Professors, African American Students, Black Faculty, Black History, Black Students, Blogroll, Daphne LaSalle, Higher Education, Louisiana State, LSU, Pinkie Gordon Lane, race.
“LSU has nine black graduate students getting Ph.D.s in chemistry this year,” he said. “That’s more than Harvard has had in 370 years!” –Henry Louis Gates, Jr., speaking at Louisiana State University in 2000
The institution that would become LSU first opened its doors in 1860. The Seminary of Learning of the State of Louisiana was located near Pineville. The Seminary was closed twice during the Civil War, but re-opened when the war was over. The Pineville campus building burned in mid-October of 1869, but re-opend two weeks later in Baton Rouge, changing its name to The Louisiana State University one year later.
Today, Roughly 9% of LSU’s 30,000 students are Black. The proportion of Black faculty is much lower, at only 3.4 percent of the total professorate.
- 1946 — African Americans attempt to enroll at Louisiana State University, but are rejected.
- 1953 — A. P. Tureaud, Jr. enrolls in LSU under court order, becoming the first African American admitted to the school. The order is overturned by a higher court, however, and he is forced to withdraw. Eventually the U.S. Supreme Court would reverse the higher court’s ruling; but Tureaud, Jr. would choose to continue his studies at Xavier University, a historically Black institution.
- 1954 — Ernest Nathan “Dutch” Morial becomes the first African American to earn a law degree at LSU. Morial would go on to become the first African American mayor of New Orleans (1977).
- 1957 — Ollie H. Burns becomes the first African American to graduate from LSU with an M.S. in Library Science.
- 1961 — Pearl Andrews becomes LSU’s first Black student to graduate with an M.Ed.
- 1964 — Federal courts mandate full intergration for LSU. Freya Anderson Rivers becomes the first Black woman to enroll in LSU as an undergraduate. Maxine Crump becomes the first Black student (male or female) to live in a Louisiana State University residence hall.
- 1967 — Poet and scholar Pinkie Gordon Lane becomes the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. at LSU (English).
- 1971 — Collis Temple Jr. becomes the first African American basketball player at LSU.
- 1972 — Kerry Pourciau becomes the first African American to serve as student body president of LSU. Harambee House Black student center is established on the LSU campus.
- 1973 — Lora O. Hinton, Jr. becomes LSU’s first African American varsity letterman in football. He is also the first African American to attend LSU on a football scholarship. Albert J. Doucette, Jr. becomes the first African American to graduate from the LSU School of Renewable Natural Resources (Masters in Fisheries).
- 1976 — Julian T. White becomes the first Black professor at LSU (Architecture). Christine Minor becomes the first Black female tenured professor at LSU.
- 1989 — Carolyn Collins becomes LSU’s first African American dean of an academic college.
- 1991 — Renée Boutte becomes LSU’s first African American homecoming queen. Minority Services office is established (in 1993 it would become the Office of Multicultural Affairs).
- 1998 — Herb Tyler becomes LSU’s first African American quarterback.
- 2002 — Daphne LaSalle becomes the first Black female Corps Commander for the LSU Corps of Cadets. Ebony Spikes becomes the first Black student to be awarded a Marshall Scholarship.
- 2006 — Natasha U. Francis becomes the first Black student to complete the LSU joint MBA/JD program. The Black Faculty Association forms.
Posted by Ajuan Mance