TCU has made strides toward making the campus ethnically diverse for decades. The African-American alumni and community share their experiences and how the campus should strengthen their mission for inclusiveness.
In 1962, TCU admitted its first three African American students on campus.
According to TCU Magazine Allene Jones was one of the three first black students enrolled on campus.
“There is pressure to being the first at anything,” she remembers telling him. “If I fail, I feel like that sets the stage for future black students. I cannot fail.”
Jone’s impact on the TCU community was the start for upcoming African American students that were to about the embark history.
Many black alumni in the earlier eras felt that they had a positive experience at TCU.
1978 alumna Glenda Hale-Lewis says she remembers the moment TCU offered her a full academic scholarship after taking a look at her transcript.
“I gave back to TCU of what they gave to me by doing some volunteering,” Hale-Lewis said.
Despite the low numbers of African Americans the students felt that they were able to build a close-knit bond with one another. Assistant Vice Chancellor Darron Turner says one of his favorite memories was hanging out in the student center with his friends.
“We were pushing each other to do well, it’s not to say that you didn’t have friends from other ethnic groups, but these people had similar experiences as you had,” Turner said. “If you said something then they understood what you were talking about.”
Board of Trustees member Ron Parker said that as a student athlete he never allowed being a student athlete inhibit him from being a student, because of his involvement on campus such as attending music recitals and administrating meetings.
“I felt embraced on campus, because it was inclusive,” Parker said. “We were in a discovery mode coming on campus.”
Some of the alumni have said that due to the changes of society along with the Civil Rights movement and other historical events that occurred in that era caused TCU to transform with the world.
One of those changes was the student body electing Jennifer Brooks as the university’s first black Miss TCU in 1971.
The first black Ms. TCU Brooks says she came to TCU with a different perspective, because of her experience of taking a Semester at Sea program prior to enrolling on campus.
“ I had the chance too see someone with leprosy in Africa, I saw children starving in India.” Brooks said. “So now in terms with my own life I’ve always tried to live it with compassion and sometimes you let some things flip off your shoulders and you move forward in a positive way to try to make a difference in someone else’s life.”
The students elected Brooks as the first black Miss TCU broke the color barrier as a new era on campus.
SOURCE: Deanna Kelley-Hill