In 2018, Centre College, Furman University, Rollins College, and Washington and Lee University collaboratively began to collect documents, images, stories, and artifacts related to the desegregation of our campuses. This effort was funded by three generous grants from the Associated Colleges of the South and led by librarians, in collaboration with faculty, students, and staff at our respective institutions. The ultimate goal of the project is to capture the often overlooked voices of those most impacted by desegregation.
This website is the culmination of nearly five years of investigation, development, and creation, yet is still not complete. We continue to add important historical and contextual information to deepen our understanding of the people and events central to desegregation, with the understanding that it was not realized in a linear or an ideal manner on any of our campuses.
There is more work to be done in society and at educational institutions to dismantle systemic racial inequity and to create equitable outcomes. Learning about and from past events is but the first step on the pathway towards equity and inclusion for all.
If you would like to find out more about becoming at part of this project, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Centre College is committed to engaging with and supporting DEI-focused programs and initiatives while striving to create an environment where differences are celebrated and where individuals can exchange ideas and share in the richness of mutual experiences. Centre College is a private liberal arts college of about 1400 undergraduate students located in picturesque Danville, KY. Centre was founded by Presbyterian leaders and officially chartered by the Kentucky Legislature on January 21, 1819. Although founded as an all-male, all-white institution, Centre did not explicitly have a policy denying Black students admittance but for the first half of the 20th century was bound by the restrictions of the Day Law, which prohibited Black and White students from receiving academic instruction at the same school. When the Day Law was amended in 1950, Centre began exploring the option of admitting Black students, but it wasn’t until 1962 that the College officially integrated with the enrollment of Timothy Kusi ’65, a Black sophomore transfer student from Ghana. The first Black American to attend classes was Helen Fisher Frye, she soon left Centre to join the Head Start program. In 1964, three students enrolled: Sharon Gill Gaskins '68, Joyce Cross Marks '68, and Jim Davis '68. The first Black faculty member, Shirley Walker, was hired in 1971 as a Professor of French.
Today at Centre College, students obtain an extraordinary liberal arts and sciences education, in a supportive community, leading to a meaningful life and career. With robust scholarship support and financial aid, the Centre Experience provides all students with opportunities for community engagement, experiential learning, study abroad, and career readiness. Centre's Statement of Community pledges continuing efforts to build and strengthen a community enriched by our differences and founded upon our common humanity.
Please view Centre’s full Statement of Community.
Furman University is a private liberal arts college in Greenville, South Carolina with about 2,500 students. The University’s strategic vision, The Furman Advantage, promises students an individualized four-year pathway facilitated by team of mentors and infused with a rich and varied set of high-impact experiences outside the classroom that include undergraduate research, study away, internships, community-focused learning, and opportunities to engage across differences.
Furman was established by the South Carolina Baptist Convention in 1826 and is the oldest private university in South Carolina. It started out male-only, but in the 1930s, it became coeducational when it merged with Greenville Woman’s College. Although Furman welcomed international students, including students of color, as early as 1898, it wasn’t until the Civil Rights movement that Furman administrators and trustees began discussing desegregation. The South Carolina Baptist Convention at the time did not support desegregation, but after two years of discussion and planning, Furman University admitted its first African American student, Joseph Allen Vaughn (‘68), on January 27, 1965. Soon after, Furman admitted three additional African American students: Sarah Reese (‘71), Lillian Brock (‘71), and June Manning.
Furman has an institutional commitment to embrace diversity as an implicit value and as an explicit practice in all of its endeavors. Following an inquiry into Furman’s ties to slavery, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved a series of recommendations that will help educate the community about Furman’s history and commemorate Furman’s first African American students through educational programs, statues, historical plaques, and scholarships.
Rollins College is a private, liberal arts college in Central Florida with about 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students and more than 600 faculty and staff. Nestled between idyllic Lake Virginia and the historic, southern town of Winter Park, Rollins was founded by New England Congregationalists in 1885 as the first recognized, co-educational, post-secondary institution of higher learning in the state of Florida. While Rollins’ staff and workforce has always included local people of color, the student body was not desegregated until 1964 and the college’s first class of black graduates matriculated in 1969. Today, Rollins is most recognized for its dedication to teaching excellence and its beautiful grounds with classic Spanish Mediterranean architecture. With more than 30 current undergraduate major offerings and several prestigious graduate programs, including the Crummer School of Business, Rollins exhibits a strong commitment to both global citizenship and liberal education principles. The campus administration is presently in the process of implementing several DEI-focused strategic initiatives, including an archival investigation of its institutional history and an Anti-Racism learning cohort to foster honest dialogue among community members.
Washington and Lee University
Washington and Lee is a top-ranked, private institution in Lexington, Virginia, that integrates the rigorous inquiry and critical thinking of a liberal arts curriculum with nationally accredited undergraduate programs in business and journalism, and a graduate School of Law. W&L is the ninth-oldest institution of higher education in America and its historic campus, situated in the Shenandoah Valley, is home to a vibrant, welcoming community distinguished by an entirely student-run Honor System that pushes students to take responsibility and realize their potential as citizens, peers and leaders.
The first Black student to attend W&L was John Chavis in 1795 who enrolled in a winter session at Liberty Hall Academy. He was the only Black student until 1964 when the W&L Board of Trustees updated the admissions policy to include the statement, “No provision of the charter, no provision of the by-laws and no resolution of the Board has established a policy of discrimination among qualified applicants for admission,” and began to integrate. The first undergraduate Black student to attend W&L was Dennis Haston in 1966 but he transferred after his first year. Walter Blake and Carl Linwood Smothers entered the W&L in 1968 and became the first Black students to earn their undergraduate degrees. Leslie Smith, the first Black student at the School of Law, was admitted in 1966 and earned his juris doctor degree in 1969.
W&L's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion includes initiatives outlined in W&L's Strategic Plan, membership in the Liberal Arts College Racial Equity Alliance, and the creation of several standing committees and working groups on campus such as the University Committee on Inclusion and Campus Climate, the Faculty Anti-Racist Plan Committee, and the Working Group on the History of African Americans at W&L. Initiatives to create a more inclusive academic experience include comprehensive reviews of W&L's general education requirements and teaching evaluation process, as well as new academic programs, coursework, training opportunities and co-curricular programs.