Students, faculty and San Marcos residents enjoyed fellowship, entertainment, free food and an educational and encouraging keynote presentation to celebrate 50 years since desegregation at Texas State.
Approximately 60 people attended the Desegregation Celebration at the Calaboose African American History Museum Saturday afternoon. The event was the second annual desegregation celebration organized by the alliance during Black History Month.
“The theme for the event is history, then and now,” said Darius Jones, communications studies senior and Black Student Alliance president.
Sandra Mayo, associate professor and director of Multicultural and Gender Studies, was the keynote speaker.
Mayo spoke about how Texas State’s diversity has grown over the past five decades, specifically speaking about the expansion of the black community. She reminded attendees of the legal struggles the first five black students had to go through in 1963 before enrolling for classes at what was then Southwest Texas State College.
The five women were Dana Smith, Georgia Hoodye, Gloria Odoms, Mabeleen Washington and Helen Jackson. Smith became the first black student to graduate from the university in 1967.
“You can call them the San Marcos five, or the Texas State five, or the heroic five,” Mayo said. “Five brave women took the stage and integrated Texas State.”
Mayo described the milestones following the enrollment of the first black students as well as the increasing diversity at the school today. In 1963 there were five black students at the university. Now there are 2,471, which is 7.2 percent of student enrollment, as well as 49 black faculty members.
“With the minorities here at Texas State, we’ve definitely grown a lot since then,” Jones said.
Mayo mentioned distinguished black Texas State faculty such as Joanne Smith, vice president of student affairs, and alumni such as Charles Austin, a high jumper who won the gold medal in the 1996 Summer Olympics.
Caitlyn Halliburton, English senior, said she wouldn’t be enrolled at the university if it wasn’t desegregated. She hopes the university will become more diverse and ethnically integrated, but students of different ethnicities need to take the initiative to network together.
“I think people are comfortable,” Halliburton said. “It’s a stigma of precedents. Their parents were used to being discriminated against. I know my parents were used to being discriminated against. So, they feel uncomfortable venturing out to other groups of people.”
Benjamin Calloway, communications studies junior, said increased multiethnic fellowship and understanding among students of different cultural backgrounds would help continue ethnic integration.
“Sometimes African Americans, white students, or Hispanic students don’t do stuff together,” Calloway said. “That’s one of the things we want to try to improve, to influence with our events. Bring more people together outside of class, and outside social activities, and more so to come together and learn each other’s history.”