On March 16, 2018, five undergraduate students who have worked with the Race & Racism at the University of Richmond Project had the opportunity to present at the Lemon Project Symposium at the College of William and Mary. The panel, entitled “Seeing the Unseen and Telling the Untold: Institutions, Individuals, and Desegregating the University of Richmond,” was moderated by Dr. Nicole Maurantonio and featured Dominique Harrington, Madeleine Jordan-Lord, Elizabeth Mejía-Ricart, Jennifer Munnings, & Destiny Riley. Below you will find the text and slide images of Madeleine Jordan-Lord’s presentation, focusing on the research she conducted while taking “Digital Memory & the Archive in the fall of 2016.” Click here to explore the exhibit she and her teammates created, “George Modlin’s Segregated University of Richmond.”
Madeleine Jordan-Lord is a 2018 gradaute who majored in American Studies and History at the University of Richmond. She has worked on digital history projects, including the Race & Racism at the University of Richmond Project, as well as the Abbitt Papers special collection at Boatwright Memorial Library. Over the course of her time at UR, Madeleine has held internships at several non-profits–Art180, Virginia Historical Society, and Tricycle Gardens–creating public curriculum and education-based workshops.
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.
by Anna Lowenthal
Anna Lowenthal is a junior from Larchmont, New York, double majoring in Political Science and Rhetoric and Communication Studies. The most interesting part of the project to her has been the process of making connections between past and present and learning more about the history of the University. This post was written as a part of Digital Memory & the Archive, a course offered in Fall 2017.
“Collegian Forum: The Dixie Resolution” written for The Collegian at the University of Richmond on November 5th, 1971 gives a direct insight into campus culture as the University of Richmond slowly became a more tolerant and inclusive place. While it may be hard to grasp what the campus rhetoric was by reading most articles or looking at pictures, this direct letter from a member of the Student Government Association (SGA)–Gaston Williams–provides a unique perspective. The fact that this is a letter stuck out to me because it is someone’s thoughts unedited; I can get an honest idea of how some people on campus felt.
by Kirsten Avila
Kirsten Avila is a senior from Malibu, California, majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies: Business of Media, Culture, and Communication, with a minor in History. The most interesting part of the project for her has been learning about the University’s reluctance to comply with Title IX and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This post was written as a part of Digital Memory & the Archive, a course offered in Fall 2017.
The Collegian article titled “Title IX is Slow Moving,” published on February 16, 1978, discusses the implementation of the Title IX law passed by Congress in 1972. Title IX states that no one should be excluded on the basis of sex in the participation, benefits, or subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving financial assistance. The passing of Title IX was extremely vital to the progress of gender equality because it granted women equal opportunity for scholarship and sports as men. The Collegian article goes through and assess the University of Richmond’s slow progress in fully implementing Title IX across all women’s sports. The Collegian interviews Assistant Athletic Director, Carol Reese, who claimed that there had been progress since the University now provided women practice uniforms and shoes. Additionally, Reese argued that the reason why the University of Richmond was behind other school is due to the lack of funding: “It takes money to build a competitive program.” Carol Reese and the article concludes that the reasoning behind the University’s slow progress in executing Title IX was the lack of funding.
by Vishwesh Mehta
Vishwesh Mehta is a senior from Mumbai, India, majoring in Rhetoric and Communication Studies. Vishwesh began his involvement in the Race & Racism Project in the Spring of 2017, when he was enrolled in an independent study course, and continued his participation through the summer as the Social Media and Public Relations Intern for the project. He has been compelled by the archive’s ground level perspective on conversations and incidents involving race on the University campus. This post was written as a part of Digital Memory & the Archive, a course offered in Fall 2017.
The article being examined today–“RC Senator Impeached“–is one published in the Collegian in 1973 shortly after University of Richmond started integrating themselves and started accepting more black students. This article speaks about how a Richmond College student, Stanley Davis, was impeached as a Richmond College Senator for various reasons by a unanimous decision. Davis was elected as RC senator one year before his impeachment, in 1972. He was the first ever black senator to be elected to student government. This incident seems to be standard procedure, but when looked at closely, this incident said a lot about how far the university had come with regards to integration. This was an indicator towards the transition from explicit and blatant racism to implicit and structural racism. However, the Richmond College Student Government Association (RCSGA) has come a long way when examined today.
During the Fall 2017 semester, 15 students took RHCS 412 Digital Memory & the Archive, a course exploring the intersections of history, memory, and archival research into UR history. The final project for this course was a team effort to use archival materials and other resources to craft a narrative related to the Race & Racism at the University of Richmond Project. Using archival materials, Katie Brennan, Elizabeth Mejía-Ricart, and Alexa Mendieta created a digital exhibit exploring the implementation of Title IX at the University of Richmond, and the lawsuit the university filed against the Department of Education in 1981 to avoid Title IX regulations. The university ultimately won this court case, stalling gender equity in college athletics at the University of Richmond and beyond. In their own words:
Compliance of Title IX guidelines was not fully finalized until the 2000s. As this exhibit has presented, while in the later years there was a conscious effort to strive towards an equal environment for female and male athletes, for many years before there was a conscious effort to deny and avoid to follow the regulation. Although it is important to highlight the progress made by the university in the recent decade, the magnitude of this progress cannot be fully appreciated unless we explore the setbacks and challenges faced by the university.
Kaitlin Brennan is a senior from Fairfield, Connecticut majoring in PPEL and Rhetoric & Communication Studies. 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. Alexa Mendieta is senior from Apache Junction, Arizona majoring in Rhetoric and Communication Studies.
Click here to check out their exhibit “The Title IX Controversy at UR” on memory.richmond.edu
by Keith Oddo
Keith Oddo is a junior from Roanoke, Virginia, double majoring in Rhetoric and Communication Studies and History. He believes this project provided him with great research experience that will be valuable in his future academic work. This post was written as a part of Digital Memory & the Archive, a course offered in Fall 2017.
On February 11, 1966, Robert Edge wrote a personal letter in the University of Richmond’s campus newspaper The Collegian titled “RC Student Asks Classmates to Join Fight for Equality.” In his short letter, which made page two of the campus newspaper, Edge discussed the Richmond Human Relations Council Tutoring Program. In the mid 1960s, the United States was in the heart of the fight for racial equality, as black people were fighting relentlessly to have the same opportunities and fair treatment as white people across the country country. The struggle came with civil unrest. The Watts riots had just taken place in California where over 30,000 people were recorded participating in the riots and fighting with police, which left thirty-four people dead, 1,000 injured and 4,000 arrested. In the summer of 1966, which was only a few months after this article was published, the Hough riots (Cleveland), Hunter’s Point riot (San Francisco), and Division street riots (Chicago) all gained national attention (Mass).
by Alexa Mendieta
Alexa Mendieta is senior from Apache Junction, Arizona majoring in Rhetoric and Communication Studies. She believes the class has given her an ability to understand the power of the archive and its ability to help or hinder an understanding of the past. Her favorite part was being able to examine the original documents. This post was written as a part of Digital Memory & the Archive, a course offered in Fall 2017.
“Recruiting Trouble Cited by Students,” the headline cried in the December 1978 issue of The Collegian. The article was nestled under the broader heading of “An Issue of Black and White,” part of a one-page section dedicated to articles about the activities and concerns of black students on the University of Richmond campus. This article specifically discussed the student concern over the focus on black male athletes, citing that the “recruitment of blacks at the University of Richmond is concentrated in the athletic department.” Because of this focus, more black men than black women were being drawn to the University. The imbalance of men and women is further discussed under the article titled, “Male-Female Ratio Imbalanced at UR.” One concern stemming from the imbalance is that the high ratio of men to women puts undue pressure on the dating culture amongst black students because black men don’t have enough women to choose from and the black women face pressure from all of the black men. The initial focus on recruiting black male athletes became a held-on stereotype. A 2010 poem submitted to The Collegian by J. Isaiah Bailey describes his experience as a black student on campus. He writes, “A black male at UR. “Oh are you an athlete?” With so many students assuming that black students must be athletes, it raises the question of why students couldn’t fathom a reason why a black male would be a student here other than his athletic prowess.
by Tegan Helms
Tegan Helms is a senior from Wilton, Connecticut. She is majoring in Rhetoric and Communication Studies and minoring in Visual and Media Arts Practices. This project has been an eye-opening experience, exposing the way the University of Richmond has handled the development of race relations throughout the years. In addition, this project has instilled in her the rhetorical importance of research and records in shaping our history and memory on certain subjects. This post was written as a part of Digital Memory & the Archive, a course offered in Fall 2017.
This entry in The Collegian was the first of a series of editorials examining “The University Spirit” at the University of Richmond in 1968. The article published on February 16, 1968, titled “The University Spirit: Cloud of Gloom,” addresses the prevailing attitude among the student body of unhappiness with the school. This week’s article features the mutual distrust and disrespect between students and the upper echelons of the administration. According to the article, this distrust stemmed from poor communication, rigid rules, and a lack of progressiveness on part of certain university administration. “While it is understandable that their roots are in another generation–a generation very far removed from ours in many ways because of our current fast moving society–college educators should lead the way in keeping abreast of modern trends within society,” the article says.
by Erin Tyra
Erin Tyra is a senior from Santa Fe, New Mexico, double majoring in Psychology and Rhetoric and Communication Studies. For Erin, this project has shed light on how the racial history of the University has directly impacted its present culture. Additionally, Erin feels the connections between the University and the city of Richmond provide an even more interesting perspective on how racial tensions have evolved over time. This post was written as a part of Digital Memory & the Archive, a course offered in Fall 2017.
On March 19, 1971, The Collegian published an article titled “Black Students Day Planned” on the first page of the 58th issue. The article outlines the details of the upcoming “black student day” that students from the University of Richmond organized. Their goal for the event was to “familiarize the blacks with the University of Richmond and make them realize that Richmond has something to offer them.” One student who helped plan and execute the event was the Richmond Student Government Association president Steve Knock, who specifically noted that his goal for the event was to help “end the white, Southern reputation Richmond has developed over the years.” One hundred students from Richmond, Chesterfield, and Henrico were scheduled to spend the entire day on UR’s campus where they would attend classes, eat lunch, attend the raft debate, and socialize with Richmond College and Westhampton College students. The article mentions that during this time, the University only had 12 black students attending (6 in each college), and that since this event brings high school students to the campus, black students day is also used as a recruitment tool, alluding to how the University was responding to the city’s struggle with school integration and diversification.