Comments from grads of other decades
Comments from staff, administrators, community members
History of integration
Making college home
A team united
Pride and tradition
Remembering the early days
Comments from graduates of other decades
UNT System Regent Marjorie Bowens Craft ('68):
There were four of us in our dormitory. We were the first four black women in Crumley Hall. I was from Dallas, one was from Houston, one was from West Texas and one was from East Texas. … I happened to be the valedictorian of my class. One of the young ladies was salutatorian of her class, and one was actually a graduate student and achieved high honors as an undergraduate.
It seemed they were looking at your academic background and achievements, the type of home you came from, your family and geography in selecting the first African American students to live in the dormitory. They weren't looking at that for other races. … But at least it was a start for showing that African Americans could live among other races and be very successful and have those types of relationships that worked.
UNT System Regent Charles Beatty ('76):
In '64 when I first went to North Texas, I was an athlete. We only had three blacks on the freshman team. I thank God that we had some success the next year so it seemed like a slew of African Americans were participating in sports after that.
We stayed on Hickory Street. It wasn't until that spring semester of '65 that they allowed the black athletes to live in the dormitory. Before that we could get the money to stay on Hickory Street, but we had to be responsible for our own meals. So A.D. Whitfield — we affectionately referred to him as Mother Whit — would cook most of our meals.
Most people who came through that period are really successful now, you know. Even if they didn't graduate from North Texas, all of them benefited from that experience.
James Gray ('66, '67 M.A.):
The dean of women taught me English literature. And she called me in after class and asked me what grades I had made in some other classes. I said, "Oh, I made a B." She said, "You're not a B student." So she asked who the instructors were, and when I told her she said, "Well, I understand now." And she gave me a very good boost. She said, "Do the best you can do under the circumstances here. There are a number of people who understand what African American students" — she called us Negroes — "are going through, and we don't think it's fair, we don't think it's right. But we respect you, we're for you, and just basically keep on keeping on."
Dennis Stephens ('72, '76 M.S.): I cannot recall during my undergraduate years ever having an African American professor. I did not consider that a drawback from the standpoint of quality of education. From what I had been told and from what I had heard, the people who would be most concerned about me would be people who are like me. I am very pleased to say that this was not true in all cases.
Gloria Phillips Stephens ('72, '77 M.M.E.): During my tenures at UNT, we didn't have a lot of African American faculty members in the music department. There was, however, an obvious attempt to recruit minority faculty. I also noticed that even in some of the organizations where we held memberships (Tri-Service, Mu Phi Epsilon), you really felt wanted. Many groups were making a sincere attempt toward cultural diversity by recruiting African Americans.
I joined the music fraternity Mu Phi Epsilon and I'm glad I did, because I met the mentor of all times who was so inspiring to me. That person was Dr. David McGuire, who was there with me through my undergraduate years (he and his wife were chapter advisers), and under his guidance, even with the lack of African American faculty members, we formed a group called the Society for the Promotion of Black Musicians. This group was able to bring artists of color to UNT to perform under the auspices of the School of Music Fine Arts Series.
Artist Thornton ('93, '98 M.A., '03 Ph.D.): Every classroom I went to there was a European American male or female heading the class, and I was wondering, where was I? We've got to have some of us around who are qualified to be here. … I questioned the faculty in class. I might have been the only brother in there, but I was the loudest person, period. I wanted to know why you said this, why you felt this way, and why my people are not in this history book. What's going on with this history? Am I not included in this history? I just questioned, questioned, questioned. Some faculty members gravitated toward me to try to either calm me down or give me an explanation. They would say, "All right, this is what's going on. This is how it fits. Don't worry about it. Calm down."
Angela Hawkins ('95): I was a Spanish major, and Dr. Gloria Contreras was always there for me. I remember when we got there we signed up for mentors and I asked for someone who spoke Spanish. I was surprised when I went to meet her, because some people would ask me, "Why do you want to do that? You're black." And when I met with her, she never said that. She was encouraging from day one. She was a good sounding board.
James Gray ('66, '67 M.A.):
I think my overall experience was probably like going to a job or going to the military. … I don't look back at college or university as a totally enjoyable time with plenty of social life, frats and sororities. We had none then. It was more like going to the military. Obstacles became a challenge, and you responded to the challenge with, "No, I'm not going to stop. You're not going to stop me. I'm going to continue to do what I started to do." But, in 1961, it was pretty much that way across a large part of the United States.
Ella Goode Johnson ('71) : I think a place of comfort for select groups on campus was the sorority and fraternity houses. That was an area where you could go to gather. I say select because the first right to get in was that you had to be a member. But when they would have open house, the black sorority and fraternity facilities were gathering places for community service projects as well as for social activities. … We have on record nearly 700 members who pledged Delta Sigma Theta at UNT, and we can account for the whereabouts of 90 percent of them. … Ninety-five percent of all the Deltas have completed their bachelor's degree, and I think that's something you don't find too often — a group who came there with a mission and completed it.
Dennis Stephens ('72, '76 M.S.):
In many classes I would be the only African American student and perhaps the only minority student in the class. I realized the importance of attaching myself to something. I think that minority students at that time sought things they were used to and this is why I feel that the groups were so important. I'm not in Greek organizations, but there were many times I felt I should have been for security and social reasons. I needed to have a support system during my tenure at the university.
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