by Elizabeth Mejía-Ricart
Elizabeth Mejía-Ricart is from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She is a sophomore at the University of Richmond who is double-majoring in Economics and Mathematics. Elizabeth is a Boatwright and Oliver Hill Scholar, who tutors at the Academic Skill Center. She has been involved with the Race and Racism Project since the summer of 2017, as an A&S Summer Fellow. She is excited to discover more about the University of Richmond’s past as she believes it is linked to the city of Richmond’s interesting history. This post was written as a part of Digital Memory & the Archive, a course offered in Fall 2017.
In Alley’s University of Richmond, the author emphasizes the institution’s first integration of black students to the main campus by mentioning the admission of Barry Greene in 1968. (p. 98) However, I want to dig deeper into the effect and success of the integration of black people at the university, especially black women. In an article of the Collegian from September, 1971, Thomas N. Pollard Jr., Director of Admissions of Richmond College at the time reported that “definite but slow” progress was being made in the recruitment of blacks to the University of Richmond. (Tatum, 1971, p. 4) Linda Tatum, the author of the article reported the opinion of multiple black students at the time, and two main concerns arise: the lack of social life for black students and the disproportional amount of black women living on campus. Immediately after reading this article I start wondering: Why does it take longer to integrate black females than black males?
On December 7, 1978, multiple articles in the Collegian guided me to the answer to this question. The first one, titled “Recruiting Troubles Cited by Students” reported that “recruitment of blacks at the University of Richmond is concentrated in the athletic department”. The article emphasizes that a majority of black males were attracted to the university by the athletic scholarship programs; otherwise, they would not be able to afford it. Indeed, this lack of effort in recruiting black students outside of athletics was one of the main reasons why out of 45 black undergraduates at the time, only six were women. The financial burden as a cause for this imbalance is further emphasized by Valerie Collins, a black junior enrolled at the time. She states that “most of the black females are from middle-class families, who have grown up around predominately white neighborhoods”. She admitted growing up in an all-white neighborhood, as her father was a Baptist minister.