Race & Racism at the University of Richmond

Browse Exhibits (3 total)

Chinese Student Experience

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The city of Richmond has been an historical home to the Baptist General Association of Virginia, a convention associated with the Southern Baptist Convention and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. In 1845, the Southern Baptist Church formed the Foreign Mission Board (renamed International Mission Board), headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. Jeremiah Jeter, president of the Richmond College Board of Trustees, was the first president of the Foreign Mission Board, beginning a long association between Richmond College and Baptist ministries abroad. Baptists chose China as the first site for their evangelistic efforts, dividing China into five missions. In 1922, all Chinese students at the University of Richmond were graduates of Pui Ching Baptist Academy (Pui Ching Middle School) in Canton (Guangzhou), China. Located in what was considered the South China Mission, the school was founded in 1889 and was the first to be created by Chinese Christians rather than Baptist missionaries.

Chinese students have been an integral part of the University of Richmond since at least the early twentieth century. Likely the first non-white students to receive an education at Richmond College, Chinese students have been subject to racial stereotyping and endured racist language, often documented in archival materials. Chinese students from both Richmond and Westhampton College were active members of the University community, preserving and promoting their identities while forming the first cultural and co-ed organizations on campus. This exhibit analyzes archival materials including the written works of Chinese students, photographs, documents, and additionally reflects the open participation of white students in Orientalism. This curated collection of historical documents and images aims to provide insight into the lives of Chinese students at the University of Richmond.

Chinese Student Club 1924A 1924 photograph in The Web, picturing Chinese Club students: J. A. Paau, Y. F. Leung, C. K. Wong, K. F. Cheung, King Mok, P. L. Mok, W. H. Lam, T. L. Sene, and Y. C. Shek. 

 

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Performance & Policy: Construction of Race Through A Musical Lens

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This exhibit examines the ways that music can help us to understand the attitudes surrounding race and racism held not only by students but also faculty members at the University of Richmond between 1932 and 1938. To begin, this exhibit discusses choral teacher Charles Troxell and his influence on the Richmond College Glee Club over many years in service as director. The next section of our exhibit zeroes in on the performances of the University’s all-white, male Richmond College Glee Club by pinpointing the problematic inclusion of minstrelsy and Negro spirituals in their various performances. Lastly, we further our research by examining campus policy surrounding what genres of music students were permitted and prohibited to play. By looking at performances showcased by white students as well as the restrictive policy of musical genres put in place by white faculty members, this exhibit endeavors to add a new narrative to the larger Race & Racism initiative. Through an examination of select primary source documents, we find white dominance asserted through the types of music that the students were allowed to engage in versus the genres of music that the University restricted through policy, thus constructing students’ views and experiences with African Americans. 

 

Sources Used:

This exhibit draws on articles from the University of Richmond's school newspaper, The Collegian, and the school literary magazine, The Messenger, to provide insight into what students believed was important to write about during this period. This exhibit also utilizes online, non-University sources to provide more historical context regarding how minstrel shows, Negro spirituals, and policy generally existed in society and popular culture during this time. By looking at University sources as well as outside sources, this exhibit can shed light on, and expand upon, the relationship between race and music, and the way that attitudes around race and racism were constructed through permission of problematic musical performances and restriction of certain music genres.

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Silence in the Archives: The Case of Russell Jones

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“ A petition was drawn and sent to the Board of Trustees and the President asking for no discrimination against any race at any future interracial affair. Today this petition is being given the well known cold shoulder by everyone involved.” - University of Richmond Collegian newspaper, 1944. 

Russell Jones

On February 16, 1944, Russell Jones, an African-American Virginia Union University student, was forced to dine separately from white students at the University of Richmond. Russell Jones was the former chairman of the Richmond Intercollegiate Council -- a council formed by students from several Virginia institutions such as: Virginia Union, Richmond Professional Institute and Medical College of Virginia (now known collectively as Virginia Commonwealth University), the University of Richmond and more.  One of the main goals of the RIC, as Jones himself described, was to “... get closer understanding among the students of the colleges in this city, and especially between the students of the two races…” (Collegian, 1944). Part of this effort was an event in which Jones was invited by the Young Women’s Christian Association to speak on the University of Richmond campus. Following his speech, Russell Jones found himself barred, amidst student protest, from joining the students for a meal because of his race.

Speaking through Silence

This exhibit will focus on how the Russell Jones’ case both influenced, and was already part of, a larger conversation at the University of Richmond. During the time that Jones was separated from the white students, the University of Richmond had yet to allow African-American students to attend. It was not until 1968 when the first residential African-American student was allowed to attend an integrated University of Richmond. To examine these conversations, however, we must acknowledge that one voice is missing from the story: the voice of Russell Jones himself.  The lack of documentation prevents this exhibit from telling Russell Jones’ story, and it must instead use Jones’ case as a lens through which we explore the conversations on race that happened amongst the students and administration at UR -- both those for and against bettering race relations between whites and African Americans.

Evidence

This exhibit will feature a variety of sources. Articles from the Collegian newspaper, correspondence between the students and administration -- namely president F.W. Boatwright, Dean May Keller, Board of Trustees, etc. -- and local news and events, such as the Virginius Dabney Proposal, will be utilized in order to deconstruct the conversations on race that were happening during this time. The metadata suggests a number of opposing views influenced by gender, religion, and age. Yet, we recognize that we are limited by the availability of source material. Therefore, we acknowledge that we cannot fully represent the mindset of the Richmond campus during this time. However, with our evidence, we can develop an improved understanding of the complex relationships of race at the University of Richmond.  

References

 

"Come On, Kids, Let's Snooze." The Richmond Collegian XXX, no. 12, (April 14, 1944): 2. http://collegian.richmond.edu/cgi-bin/richmond?a=d&d=COL19440414.2.11&srpos=2&e=01-01-1939-31-12-1945--en-20--1--txt-txIN-negro+speaker-ARTICLE-----#

"Intercollegiate Council Seeks Active Members." The Richmond Collegian XXX, no. 8, (February 8, 1944): 1. http://collegian.richmond.edu/cgi-bin/richmond?a=d&d=COL19440218.2.2&srpos=6&e=------194-en-20--1--txt-txIN-RIC----1944--#

 

 

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