50 Years of Desegregation Timeline

Tell a friend about this page.
All fields required.
Can be sent to only one email address at a time.
Share Facebook Icon Twitter Icon
50th_Desegregation 50 Years of Desegregation Timeline 50 Years of Desegregation
Celebrating 50 Years of Desegregation

Celebrating 50 Years of

Desegregation at East Carolina University




Laura Marie Leary Elliot '66 of Vanceboro becomes East Carolina's first African-American student.

Sixteen African-American students are enrolled, including Ray Rogers '72. Ray is pictured with his wife, Eve, and daughter, Adeea.

About 50 African-American students are enrolled. Paul D. Scott is the first black student to receive a football scholarship. Vincent Colbert and Marvin Simpson are the first black players on the basketball team. Elliott becomes the first black graduate.

Dennis Chestnut is selected for the SGA Judiciary Board, the first African-American in a student leadership role.

Bennie Teel, managing editor of The East Carolinian, is the first African-American from East Carolina in Who's Who. Lillian T. Jones and Nellie Ross graduate.

About 90 African-American students form the Society of United Liberal Students, or SOULS. They come up with a list of demands at a March 3 meeting and present them to President Leo Jenkins. At SOULS ' next meeting on March 26, 1969, the students decide to march to Dail House to press Jenkins for faster action. In coming weeks Jenkins meets with SOULS several times, then calls the entire student body and faculty together for a convocation in Ficklen Stadium. He urges patience and predicts progress will be slow, but he makes it clear that overt prejudice will no longer be tolerated. Referring to two professors accused of discrimination by SOULS, Jenkins says "one of these is no longer with us, and the other is leaving at the end of this year."



African-American enrollment grows to about 200. A celebration called Black Week is begun, including skits, dance, musicians and other entertainment.

The Admissions Office turns to the SGA Office of Minority Affairs for help writing a recruitment brochure aimed at black high school students. Although brutally frank about the state of race relations on campus-- it admits there have been "open displays of prejudice by some whites to some blacks" and that some white professors discriminate against black students-- the brochure is highly effective and widely praised. Ken Hammond '73 '83 '85 and other black students establish the Eta Nu chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, ECU's first African-American fraternity. Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first black sorority, is formed.

Hammond is the first African-American elected senior class president.

The first African-American faculty members arrive on campus, including Ledonia Wright, a community health professor originally from Rockingham County who has had a distinguished career in New York and Boston. She becomes adviser to SOULS.

The old "Y" Hut is converted into the Afro-American Cultural Center. A year later, it is renamed the Ledonia Wright Cultural Center upon Wright's sudden death. The Ebony Herald is published.

The separate black and white homecoming queen contests are merged, and Jeri Barnes becomes the school's first African-American Homecoming Queen.



Natalear Collins and Brenda Klutz become the first African-American graduates of the Brody School of Medicine.
Back to TOP