Race & Racism at the University of Richmond

Student Efforts

Article "Black and White"

"Black and White"

Collegian Article “Black and White”

During this time in the 1960s, the University was supposed to be making progress in terms of integrating the school. It had been receiving pressure from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) to make more strides towards integration. Primarily in regards to the student body, the University was responsible for creating ways to recruit black students to apply and eventually enroll. However, some of the students on campus did not feel as if the University was doing enough. Other than hosting events such as open houses for prospective black students, writing in a public forum such as the Collegian was one of the main ways for students to make an effort to make it known to the University that there should be more black students on campus.

In this Collegian article titled “Black and White” from September 20, 1968, the author discussed how the main campus of the University was “truly integrated” for the first time. In the fall of 1968, five full-time black students were admitted to the main campus. Though some white students felt as if the campus was actually integrated, they did not feel as if it was as integrated as it should be. Some of the authors of the Collegian newspaper advocated for more complete integration of the University. As the white students had only limited contact with black people throughout their lives, they wanted to be exposed to more black people and thought the University should take on a more active role in creating a more diverse educational environment. The author of this specific article felt that white students deserved to get a chance to experience the “educated Negro,” rather than the negative depiction of black people they saw through the media in cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Watts, etc. It is imperative to acknowledge that this view is problematic. It minimizes black people into a few categories such as “educated” or "violent," and makes them out to be props for the white students' educational benefit. Though this view does have a problematic nature, it shows that some students wanted to be exposed to more black students, especially more than the few black students that had recently been admitted to the University. The author claimed that the University could not claim to be a true liberal arts institution without providing its students the opportunity to be exposed to all “races, creeds, colors, and social backgrounds” through the process of full integration. 

'Black Students Day' Attracts 65 to UR

"Black Students Day" Article

Open House Article

On April 27, 1971 the Richmond and Westhampton Student Governments of U of R held an open campus event for black students on the University of Richmond’s campus. The program included a campus tour, a debate, and a general assembly. The students who authored the program asserted that while the University of Richmond excels in many areas, one area they are particularly lacking in is diversity. The program further states that the student leaders of the University of Richmond's campus want to change this issue and invite the students participating in the program to consider joining the campus community. This outreach program illustrates the high degree of concern at least some students felt should be given to integration during the 1970s. This is clearly in response to the university's lack of integration following the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Several days following the event on April 30, of 1971 Judy Samuelson, staff writer for the Collegian, wrote about the success of the Open Campus. Samuelson wrote that the program attracted sixty five black students from all but one high school in the Richmond-Henrico-Chesterfield area. Several visiting students made positive remarks about the University and its professors. The article further expounds upon the various events of the day, and why each presented the university in a “true light. ”Mrs. Madalyn Williams, a guidance counselor from Maggie Walker High school remarked that the program would “serve as a two way avenue for progress.”

When compared to the administrations letter writing campaign, it is clear that the student run open house program was more successful in bringing students of color to the University of Richmond. This begs the question of just how much effort the university administration was actually putting into recruiting a diverse class of students. 

Article "Dixie Issue Will Be Harmful"

"Dixie" Article

"Dixie" Dilemma

In a 1971 Collegian article, author Dave Short addresses how many black students at the University believed the playing of the song "Dixie" could harm black student recruitment. The students said that they would not have attended the University if they heard the song during some type of recruitment event.They said that it would definitely make them change their mind about attending the University and that black enrollment would decrease if the University continued to play the song because it would make black students uncomfortable. One student said the song should be abolished because it represents the Old South and a racist attitude. Another student said it brings back memories of the Old South, including slavery and bondage. The student said the song is played so often it represents a theme song for the university. A third student said he thought the school was more liberal than it actually is.

"Students for a Well-Balanced Campus"

Students for a Well-Balanced Campus

Also, in regards to student efforts, some student leaders on campus in 1972 collaborated on a letter that was sent to President Modlin. The letter expressed their belief of there being too few minority students enrolled at the University. The students laid out actions that they felt the administration needed to take in order to fix this lack of diversity. The recommended actions were as follows: making a larger commitment to diversified student body needs, having a minority recruiter employed by the admissions office, a catalogue that shows commitment to a diversified student body, minority students as recruiters, and participation in a model cities program for underprivileged students in order to reach black high school students. Students from the organization, Students for a Well-Balanced Campus, noted that they had also taken on diversity initiatives, including sponsoring a black recruiter from the University of Virginia; sending students to area high schools for recruiting during Christmas vacation 1970-71; participating in Black Students Day in spring 1971; contacting public high schools in Richmond to have University, student representatives talk to high school students; and participating in "Black Awareness" sessions at Virginia Union University.

From these documents, one can see that the student efforts of compliance were certainly different than the administration’s efforts. Judging by the evidence, it appears as if the students were taking more of an initiative to integrate the University as opposed to the administration who seemed mainly concerned with repercussions from HEW. The administration had significantly more resources to recruit black students than the inidividuals on campus but these individuals seemed to take more proactive and public steps to create a diverse student body.

Student Efforts