“We Don’t Want to Integrate!”
That was the outcry
made by 4,000 students in 1963 when Texas A&M President, General Earl Rudder, convened a campus forum
to discuss plans to admit women. According to the Brazos Genealogical Society online, “Rudder’s
concluding remarks are drowned out by a chorus of boos.”
Even today at the College Station
campus, if 4,000 people are shouting together about something, it will not be a good day for
How do we approach these persistent and discouraging dynamics? During Black
History Month, we are going to try to keep our scholarly wits. There are crucial questions to
For instance, we have yet to locate a document that supports the Texas A&M
announcement to extend the vestiges of Hopwood. We tried looking in the Regents’ agenda packet, but
there was absolutely no mention of race or affirmative action there.
Where is the
documentary trail that leads to the decision to uphold the vestiges of Hopwood and why was it made? It
is remarkable that the Regents didn’t put a single word in writing.
Portales reports that A&M President Robert Gates met with “minority” faculty on Dec. 18, two weeks
after the announcement was made. So who did he meet with before?
As we continue to
collect materials and to think about the possibilities of winning a civil rights victory, we cannot
forget that we live in a state rich with civil rights intelligence. James Farmer, Sr., taught at Sam
Huston College in Austin (now Huston-Tillotson) and Wiley College in Marshall. He raised up a son,
alright, who was not a Young Conservative.
And speaking of Wiley College, we marvel at
the golden age of scholars who would today still be considered heroic for their intellectual
Oliver Cromwell Cox, for instance, who taught at Wiley College, wrote a durable
analysis of Caste, Class, and Race. For him, the anti-integration fervor of young people was not to be
explained by any innate tendencies to wickedness. These attitudes have to be cultivated. And behind
that cultivation, Cox looked for interests served.
So how do we understand the
conditions that cultivate such dreadful images as jungle parties, affirmative action bake sales, and
open protests against the arrival of a Vice President for Diversity?
As we continue to
sift for documentary evidence, we will also continue to read our Black History and reflect on the Texas
struggles that have brought us this far.
And we will not apologize for following quite a
different path of scholarship than what is being pursued by Young Conservatives these days, who are the
intellectual heirs of a staunch tradition to be sure. In the end, will the elite leaders of the state
do what Cox predicted they would do–cultivate neo-fascist youth–or will they stand up to the boos?
Mark your calendars for March 11, when the Univ. of Texas Regents have scheduled a
special meeting during Spring Break whose agenda has yet to be announced.