African American enrollment
WFAA coverage of the 50th anniversary of desegregation
History of integration
Making college home
A team united
Pride and tradition
Remembering the early days
Text transcript for "Integration Anniversary" coverage
WFAA, 1/19/04, 10 p.m.
ABC – Dallas, Texas
University of North Texas is celebrating 50 years of integration this year.
The first African American students were allowed to attend classes at the university back in 1954. The first black to graduate from UNT with an undergraduate degree talked to Channel 8’s Rebecca Lopez about what it was like when those first African American students arrived on campus.
(crowd noise, sirens)
Integration was met with violence and protest on many university campuses in the 1950s and ’60s, but when the University of North Texas accepted its first two African American students in the summer of 1954, the mood was peaceful.
"For the most part, they didn’t have some of the opposition that they heard about other students having in other areas of the state and out of state."
Herbie Johnson was the first black student to get his undergraduate degree from the university. He recalls being the only African American student in all of his classes.
"We knew we were a little unique, but that wasn’t our main focus. Our main focus was making good grades and getting out of here with a degree."
Johnson says he and other black students were met with little hostility, but still faced discrimination. They weren’t even allowed to live on campus.
"We were required to live across town in the city, so that was the first thing I noticed. I had to find a place to live over there in the African American community. And we walked to the other side of town to get to classes."
But for the most part, students were accepted. The first two black football players, Abner Haynes and Leon King, recall the first time they walked on the football field with all white athletes.
"To their pleasant surprise, they simply extended their hand and greeted them and welcomed them to the team."
Since those first African American students integrated the university 50 years ago, the African American population here on campus has grown tremendously. It now makes up more than 10 percent of the population. Herbie Johnson says he's proud when he walks around the campus today, proud to be a part of history that made it possible for other minority students to reach for their dreams. Rebecaa Lopez, Channel 8 news, Denton.
UNT plans on a daylong celebration Feb. 14 in honor of its 50 years of desegregation.