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Desegregation at Centre College: 1970's

1970's

“8 Barbers Enjoined from Discrimination,” 1972, CASE 12 Newspaper Clippings, Drawer 2, 

Civil Rights Folder, Thomas A. Spragens Rare Book Room and Archives, Centre College Danville, KY.

  • This article highlights the results of the barber shop protest that happened in Danville with members of the community along with a few Centre students. They protested the barbershops determination to remain segregated.

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  1. “African Youth Leaders Visiting Here,”1970, Case 12 Newspaper Clippings Drawer 2, Foreign Students

    1. Folder, Thomas A. Spragens Rare Book Room and Archives, Centre College Danville, KY. 

  • A copy of an article written in the Danville Advocate Messenger that highlights various African Students visiting with Dr. Vahlkamp and Dr. Eric Mount 

  1. “Al McRoberts: Remembering the Injustices of the Past,” CC-32.2 Student Essays, History 402 Papers

    1. Folder, Thomas A. Spragens Rare Book Room and Archives, Centre College Danville, KY. 

  • This paper was written for a History 402 class. In the paper, the student researched a lynching that occurred in 1866 in the yard of the Presbyterian Church that sits across the street from what is now the Campus Center. They also very briefly mentioned a lynching that may have taken place on Centre College’s Campus around that time. (pg. 7) Although they were unable to find adequate information on the second lynching, this is something that should be investigated. The events highlighted in this paper took place about a century prior to the enrollment of the first cohort of black students at Centre, but this information is crucial in setting the stage for racial tensions in Danville. Newspapers articles written on this event spread beyond the immediate community which could have given Danville a reputation that is less than welcoming to black students a century later. 

  1. Black Student Union Announcement, 1974, Case 12 Newspaper Clippings, Drawer 2, Clubs and

    1. Organizations- Students Folder, Thomas A. Spragens Rare Book Room and Archives, Centre College Danville, KY. 

  • The Black Student Union announced a convocation that was held to honor Martin Luther King Jr. This convocation has become a recurring event during Centre Term, now sponsored by the Diversity Student Union 

  1.  Black Student Union Newsletter, 1997, CC-44 Student Organizations, Folder 44.4, Thomas

    1. A. Spragens Rare Book Room and Archives, Centre College Danville, KY. 

  • The 1997 Black Student Union’s Newsletter is the only thing in the Black Student Unions folder in the archives. In the newsletter, they announce the first convocation that honored Martin Luther King Jr., a tradition that continues today. It also mentions how the BSU would recruit minority middle and high school students together.  

  1. “Fraternity Mock Hangings Started in ‘70s as Innocent Fun,” Advocate-Messenger (Danville, KY), Nov. 23,

    1. 1988 

  • Explanation of the Phi Delta Theta’s tradition that led to the “mock hanging” in 1988. What was usually a fun and scary tradition of “hanging” a member for their “sins” during Halloween, in 1988, rather than using green, white or red paint on the “hangee”, they used black charcoal 

  1. "First Black to Run,Centrepiece, August 1971, Pg 26Thomas A. Spragens Rare Books Room and Archives, Centre College Danville, KY. 

  • Ollie Taylor was the first black student ever to run for Centre student body president. 

  1. "Boles Natatorium Has Been a 'Beehive' Of Activity Since Last September," Centrepiece, August 1971, Pg 28.Thomas A. Spragens Rare Books Room and Archives, Centre College Danville, KY. 

  • Underneath this article there is a photo of the swimming pool with an African American female potentially giving lessons to small children. This shows progress just a few years after Jim Crow laws were abolished.  

  1. "Centre's 1971-1972 Cheerleaders," Centrepiece, Vol. 13, No. 1, December 1971, Pg 7, 

Thomas A. Spragens Rare Books Room and Archives, Centre College Danville, KY. 

  • Keeta Gaillard, a Black female student from Mobile Alabama pictured on the cheer squad photo.  

  1. "Honors for Grid Colonels," Centrepiece, Vol. 13, No.2, February-March 1972, Pg 7, 

Thomas A. Spragens Rare Books Room and Archives, Centre College Danville, KY. 

  • Anthony "The Rock" Olinger from Hazard, KY., was a Black Centre football player won honorable mention in All-America football selections and was chosen to the all-College Athletic Conference grid.  

  1. "Ollie L. Taylor Chosen Student Congress Head," Centrepiece, August 1971, Pg 26, 

Thomas A. Spragens Rare Books Room and Archives, Centre College Danville, KY. 

  • Ollie Taylor was elected as student body president, becoming Centre's first Black student to run and win the election since students first began to enroll in September 1964. The article goes on to say that there were currently 21 black students in Centre's 679 total enrollment.  

  1. "Research Projects," Centrepiece, August 1972, Pg 17, 

Thomas A. Spragens Rare Books Room and Archives, Centre College Danville, KY. 

  • This image shows Robert Kirk, one of Centre's Black students operating research equipment while white peers and the professor watch behind him.  

  1. "Ray Burse is Centre's First Black Rhodes Scholar and Centre's Second Student So Honored Since 1967,"Centrepiece, Vol. 14, No.2, 1973, Pg 3. Thomas A. Spragens Rare Books Room and Archives, Centre College Danville, KY. 

  • Burse won among 32 students, including an Olympic athlete and the grandson of a presidential candidate. 

  1. Centrepiece, Vol 11. No.3, February 1970, Pg 4, Thomas A. Spragens Rare Book Room and Archives, Centre College Danville, KY. 

  •  In this photo at the bottom right corner of page four, student Susan Warren is giving five-year-old African American girl Karen Wilkinson a piggy back ride. It seems that at this point in time Centre students worked a lot with the Danville black community.  

  1. “Commencement Address,” Centrepiece, August 1920, Pg 8-10, Thomas A. Spragens Rare Book Room and Archives, Centre College Danville, KY. 

  • Dr. Benjamin E Mays was awarded an honorary degree of letters and gave the commencement address in this year. He gives a really detailed and interesting speech on the reality of black-white relations at the time (post civil rights movement). It would be interesting to find out how his speech was received by the public.  

  1. “Nine 1970 High School Graduates Win George Baker Scholarships,” Centrepiece, August, 1970, Pg 20, Thomas A. Spragens Rare Books Room and Archives, Centre College Danville, KY 

  • There is an article about Centre's George Baker scholarship recipients this year and a photo of Dr. Bunche along with a African American male student. The photo caption is unclear about the name of the student, but this shows that at least one of the nine males awarded this full ride scholarship was African American 

  1. “Gordon Benning Achievements Cited With Pride By Centre College,” Centrepiece, August 1970, Pg 32, Thomas A. Spragens Rare Books Room and Archives, Centre College Danville, KY. 

  • This is an article about Gordon Benning, the only African American Centre football player from my previous citation of the article about the team winning the tournament in 1969. It celebrates his academic and athletic achievements and has an interesting response on the advantages of small colleges for black students from Gordon himself.

  1. “Protests Go On: Students still holding peaceful marches on some campuses,” 1970, Case 12 Newspaper

    1. Clippings, Drawer 2, Day of Concern Folder, Thomas A. Spragens Rare Book Room and Archives, Centre College Danville, KY. 

  • The events recorded in this article were referenced in Angelique Robey’s essay on student activism at Centre (cited in this LibGuide). A silent march was organized by Centre students in response to the tragedy at Kent State where an anti-war demonstration was being held. The march took place on the same day as a demonstration against the local barber shop. Was this a coincidence? 

  1. Retired Negro Women’s Leader, 74, Has Broad Plans for Her Life, Advocate-Messenger (Danville, KY),

    1. Jan. 11, 1950. 

  • “The highest post a woman of her race had held in governance”. The article mentioned the achievement of Dr. Mary McLeed for being the president of the National Council of Negro Women. According to the paper, that would have been the highest position that a black woman had held up until that date. Although the paper does not expand the importance of this position for the society of the time, it mentions that Dr. McLeed was an important figure in the U.S. and might have even influenced some of the black movement that took place in the whole world during the 50s 

  1. Robey, Angelique, “Kent State and Student Activism at Centre College” Essay, 1982, CC-32, Folder R.

    1. Student Essays. Thomas A. Spragens Rare Book Room and Archives, Centre College, Danville, KY. 

  • Angelique Robey was a student at Centre College in 1971 who wrote an essay that analyzed Centre students and the way in which they reacted to national social movements and protests in a history class taught by Dr. Lee. In the paper she quotes a former Centre student on Pg. 6 who said “…the majority could be described as apathetic…a large majority seemed oblivious to it all”. This statement was in regards the student body’s opinions on the Vietnam War. (Interviews with black Centre alumna, express similar descriptions of the student body during the 60s and early 70s.) Although Robey’s paper speaks mostly on attitudes surrounding the Vietnam war, her analysis could be used to understand the student body’s attitudes towards other social movements that captivated most of the United States, including the Civil Rights Movement. Apathy or even unconcern towards issues that are pertinent to one’s identity can play a huge role in fostering feelings of isolation and loneliness which are feelings several black alumni, as well as current students have expressed over the years. In Robey’s paper, she gives reasons for the lack of demonstrations on campus which you may or may not agree with, depending on your perspective.

  1. “Some Centre Students Protest the Protest,” 1970, Case 12 Newspaper Clippings Drawer 2, Day of Concern

    1. Folder, Thomas A. Spragens Rare Book Room and Archives, Centre College Danville, KY. 

  • An article copied from Centre’s school news-paper highlighted the “silent majority” that disagreed with the protest. There was also a brief mentioning of the barber shop protest that took place the same day.  

  1. “Will Work for Food-Centre’s Hired Hand,” 2012, CC-32.2 Student Essays, History 402 Papers Folder,

    1. Thomas A. Spragens Rare Book Room and Archives, Centre College Danville, KY. 

  • This is another essay that was written in a Centre HIS 402 class. This students researched the use of people who were enslaved at Centre during the early 1800s. Although Centre College never owned slaves, they took advantage of a system that used them without bearing the responsibility or moral conflict of owning them.