Interactive view of IWU’s multicultural history

Check out this compilation of sources in a timeline of the currently known events in IWU’s multicultural history.*

*Note: Records by and about student groups and events are sparse after the 2010s. If you have information to share, contact archives@iwu.edu!

First African-American PhD in Sociology

This guest post was contributed by Carl Teichman, Director of Government and Community Relations, IWU President’s Office, and member of the Class of 1980. Teichman created this biographical summary through information found in Randall K. Burkett’s book Black Redemption: Churchmen Speak for the Garvey Movement (Temple University Press, 1978).

James Robert Lincoln Diggs, Ph.D., 1906
James Robert Lincoln Diggs, Ph.D., 1906

James Robert Lincoln Diggs was awarded a Ph.D. in Sociology from Illinois Wesleyan University in 1906, thereby becoming the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. in that discipline and the ninth to earn a Ph.D. in any field in the United States.

Diggs, whose Ph.D. thesis was titled “The Dynamics of Social Progress,” graduated from Wayland Seminary in Washington, D.C., in 1866, and went on to earn the A.B. and A.M. degrees from Bucknell University in 1898 and 1899.

After completing his academic training, Diggs was the head of several small black Baptist colleges in the south, including State University in Louisville, Ky., Virginia Theological Seminary and College in Lynchburg, Va., and Selma University in Selma, Ala. In 1914, he was named president of Clayton-Williams University in Baltimore. A year later he was called to the pastorate of Trinity Baptist Church in Baltimore, and he served as the minister there until his death in 1923.

Diggs was a colleague of W.E.B. DuBois and was one of the few black educators to participate in the Niagara Movement. Diggs was among the group of 29 prominent African-Americans who met secretly in Niagara Falls, Ont., in 1905 and drew up a manifesto that called for full civil liberties, abolition of racial discrimination, and recognition of human brotherhood. The Niagara Movement was the forerunner of the NAACP.

At the Niagara Movement’s Harper’s Ferry Convention in 1906, the year he received the Ph.D. from Illinois Wesleyan, Diggs lectured alongside Du Bois and Reverd D. Ransom. He was also a principal financial backer of the Niagara Movement’s journal, the Horizon. An early member of the NAACP, Diggs was president of the Baltimore division. He was also a member of the national Equal Rights League and served as its national vice president. Diggs was regarded for his scholarly sermons, including an eloquent defense of Marcus Garvey during the third International Convention of Garvey Universal Negro Improvement Association in August 1922.

Research files: IWU Baseball & segregation

IWU Athletics made history with a 1930 spring Baseball training trip to the South (See the 1932 Wesleyana p. 133). A brief mention in the 1950 Wesleyana says IWU was the first school to take a team on this kind of trip annually. The trips spread IWU’s reputation and so were a good recruiting tool for out-of-state students. The Argus often attributes the success of our baseball teams to these non-Conference games and from the first mention on April 16, 1930 (p.6) it was clear that extra practice time was the primary goal.

A recent research request raised the question of our involvement with segregated schools during these trips. I have yet to find mention in the earliest articles on the subject, but in 1955 the Board of Trustees issued a statement that included a point about discrimination based on religion and race with regard to education. Our records are not clear about why such a policy was implemented but this was the year of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, so it is not difficult to imagine how topics in the larger world could influence decisions inside the Wesleyan Bubble.

Statement of Policy excerpt
Excerpt from a three page May 1955 IWU Bulletin insert titled “A Public Statement of Policy.”

More to the point of this post, on December 3, 1956 the Faculty Meeting Minutes show a question raised about policies regarding “colored players on our baseball trips and on other sports teams.” The Athletics Committee of the Board of Trustees took up the question.

IWU Board of Trustees' Committee on Athletic Relations with the stated purpose of reviewing athletics' policies and schedules.
1956 committee details are unavailable. The 1958 Board of Trustees committee name and purpose is pictured here.

The committee brought a policy back to the faculty on January 7, 1957 which was debated and approved. The policy below was written by the Committee on Improvement of Athletics Relations on December 13, 1956.

A 1958 restatement of the 1956 policy that IWU would not schedule games with athletic teams that discriminated against members of IWU teams.
1956 policy on athletics (Click to enlarge.)

A revision reported to the faculty on October 6, 1958 is pictured below and is attributed to the Committee on Athletic Policy. No separate records of these groups exist in the University’s archives and this statement was actually found in the March 1965 Faculty Meeting Minutes. It does not explicitly mention race and instead defines two criteria IWU uses, and expects its opponents to use, in determining eligibility of players.

1958 revision (click to enlarge)

Of course, agreed upon policies don’t always translate into actions. By early 1965 the faculty raised the question again. A February 5 (p. 3) Argus article implies that the Southern trips to segregated schools continue “because we at present have no Negro on the baseball team….” That statement is affirmed in a quote attributed to Jack Horenberger in the February 12, 1965 Argus (p. 1). Horenberger “agreed ‘in principle to the recommendation'” and added “that the present policy has never been fully invoked due to the fact that ‘he (sic) has never had a Negro come out for baseball.'” The same article mentions a new proposal that would prohibit IWU scheduling games with segregated schools regardless of the presence of an IWU athlete who is black.

A motion from the Human Relations Committee, which the February 5, 1965 Argus reports was recently formed, is raised at the March 1965 Faculty Meeting and is more explicit than previous statements regarding integrating athletic teams. It appears to receive approval and yet the record pictured below concludes that it is the 1958 policy that is ultimately affirmed.

This document shows the faculty affirming an explicit statement about playing only racially-integrated teams but the less explicit 1958 policy is affirmed.
March 1965 Faculty Meeting (click to enlarge)

At least one alumnus, the person who most recently prompted this inquiry, feels the policy was enforced. A further search of the student newspaper only reveals a later interview with a faculty member reminiscing on the controversy in the 1960s (February 22, 1985 Argus p. 6). She thought the lack of black athletes on IWU’s teams wasn’t a coincidence considering the poor climate of social justice on campus in the 1960s. Alumnus Luther Bedford (’59; track and 3x football letterman) shared his experiences, including examples of discrimination in this era, in a 1999 interview for the Minority Alumni Network.

Call for participation from Meg (your archivist):
A review of the sources for this post reveals several mentions of College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) policies regarding scheduling competitions. It would be an interesting exercise to compile a list of the IWU Spring schedules in this era in order to identify segregation policies of the schools we played and to look at the development of specific rules for CCIW schools. I would also be interested in hearing stories from IWU athletes during this time period and from any others who were impacted by these decisions. You, too, can contribute to our knowledge of IWU’s history! Any takers? Contact archives {at} iwu.edu

Research Files: Gwendolyn Brooks @IWU

In honor of this year being the centennial of Gwendolyn Brooks’s birth, Ross Hettinger from the English Honors Society Sigma Tau Delta contacted the archives about putting together an exhibit based on her connection with our campus. As a result of that request, archives’ staff found news articles and photographs that document her five visits to campus between 1972-1999. Ross created an exhibit that will remain in the library’s entry level rotunda until November 30th. This post provides links to news stories and a selection of photos found in response to this query. All black and white photos were scanned from University’s collection of negatives and the color photos were scanned from slides.

Brooks with Buck Library in background

Brooks and unnamed individuals heading towards her reading during the 1972 Fine Arts Festival

A March 3, 1972 front page Argus story details the plans for the March 9-21, 1972 Fine Arts Festival. The story states that Miss Brooks “will head a list of dignitaries” who would be visiting campus.

Brooks signing autographs

Brooks and unnamed individuals during the 1972 Fine Arts Festival

The Argus published on the 24th provides a detailed recap of her reading.

 

 

 

 

 

The 1972 Wesleyana also contains photos of Brooks and others who shared their talents during the Festival.

 

 

 

 

 

Brooks with President Eckley prior to Commencement 1973

Brooks with President Eckley prior to Commencement 1973. Former president Bertholf is on the left.

The following May The Argus announced that Brooks would be the Commencement speaker for 1973. Only a small photo made it into the IWU Bulletin that summer and fall but details on her remarks are lacking, except for a brief mention in the 1973 Wesleyana.

Brooks at Commencement 1973

Brooks being vested with an honorary doctorate during Commencement 1973

Brooks giving a reading in March 1979

Brooks giving a reading in March 21, 1979

There was speculation that Brooks would return for her third visit during the Black Fine Arts Festival according to the March 2, 1979 Argus at the invitation of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. The March 23, 1979 Argus carried a photo and caption on p. 1 showing that she did.

Brooks giving a reading in March 1979

Brooks signing an autograph for an unidentified attendee during a reading in March 21, 1979

Brooks in Evelyn Chapel

Brooks speaks with students at Evelyn Chapel, February 1988

In 1988 the February 12 Argus stated that the English Department and the Student Senate were sponsoring Brooks’s visit on February 18 at an event to be held at Evelyn Chapel. A follow up article on the 26th described her visit in detail. She titled her presentation “Life, Love, Laughter, Liberty and Laceration.”

Brooks in Evelyn Chapel

Brooks speaks with students at Evelyn Chapel, February 1988

Brooks at the Soul Food Dinner

Brooks speaking at the Shirk Center for the Soul Food Dinner, February 7, 1999

Her final visit to campus was as the speaker at IWU’s annual Soul Food Dinner. Her appearance was announced in The Argus on February 2, 1999. A follow up article notes that IWU student Teri Lahmon, Class of 2000, introduced Brooks and read one of her own poems at Brooks’s request.

Brooks at the Soul Food Dinner

Brooks at the Shirk Center for the Soul Food Dinner, February 7, 1999

The Argus also ran an obituary for Brooks on December 8, 2000 which briefly recounts her 1999 visit and mentions that IWU awarded her an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree in 1973.

Research files: First Black faculty member

John W. Martin, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Sociology,first African American faculty member.

John W. Martin, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Sociology, first African American faculty member.

During a recent visit by some wonderfully curious Gateway students, someone asked about the first African-American professor. Our first Black professor arrived in 1961 when John W. Martin joined the Sociology faculty. This is documented on p. 176 of the Myers and Teichman book Illinois Wesleyan University: Continuity and Change, 1850-2000. Sadly, we don’t know much else about his life. Anyone who has records about him to donate is welcome to contact the archives (archives {@} iwu.edu).

In future posts I will share more of the questions posed by these students.

Frank Starkey

Frank Starkey, Ph.D., Professor

The next African-American faculty member (as researched by the archivist) was Frank Starkey, Professor of Chemistry, who taught from 1971-1980 and received the 1978 IWU Century Club Teacher of the Year Award. In comments he shared during the Black Fine Arts Festival, reported on in The Argus (p. 1) March 22, 1977, Starkey remarks on the need for the Black Student Union to improve on their efforts (re BFAF’s purpose) and also includes a critique of IWU’s poor recruiting efforts of Black students, faculty and administrators.

The Pratt Family Collection

Ticket stubs from several of Awadagin’s performances

The Pratt family’s influence has been felt all over the world and the Tate Archives holds many interesting materials related to this influential family. Music aficionados will enjoy perusing through concert programs, performance schedules, ticket stubs, and other ephemera related to world-renowned concert pianist Awadagin Pratt, whose career has spanned four decades. Awadagin began piano lessons when he was six years old and entered the University of Illinois to continue those studies at the age of 16. Awadagin was the first student to receive diplomas from the Johns Hopkins University’s Peabody Conservatory of Music in three performance areas – piano, violin, and conducting. Appearing in People Magazine, Newsweek, and named one of the 50 Leaders of Tomorrow in Ebony’s 50th anniversary issue, he has performed in both of Presidents Clinton’s and Obama’s White Houses, and showcased his talents as a performer and conductor in concert halls and symphonies on several continents. Our collection of materials associated with Awadagin will keep any music lover busy for hours; but, that’s not all there is to this collection!

Awadagin’s piano lesson practice log

Awadagin’s father, Dr. T.A.E.C. “Ted” Pratt (1936 – 1996), mother, Dr. Mildred Sirls Pratt (1928-2012), and his sister, Dr. Menah Pratt-Clark are highly admired professionals in their respective fields as well. A music enthusiast in his own right, Ted was born in Sierra Leone, and raised in a family where his sisters were taught the piano, and he and his brothers learned to play the organ. Ted grew up receiving his education from some of the world’s finest institutions, including the Prince of Wales School and Fourah Bay College in Freetown, Sierra Leone; Durham University in Durham, England; and, the Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia. After receiving his M.S. in Physics from the Carnegie-Mellon Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, he became the first person from Sierra Leone to earn his PhD in Nuclear Physics, also from the Carnegie-Mellon Institute. The Pratt Family Collection contains many of Ted’s published articles, research, teaching materials, family letters and personal ephemera from every period of his life.

Dr. Theodore Pratt’s lifetime membership award to the American Association for the Advancement of Science

As Professor of Sociology & Anthropology at Illinois State University, and co-founder and co-director of the Bloomington-Normal Black History Project, Dr. Mildred Pratt has been widely recognized for her dedication to making our local community a welcoming place for people of all backgrounds. She is a recipient of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity’s Citizen of the Year Award in 1987, as well as, the Town of Normal’s Human Relations Reward in 1989. After the death of her husband, Mildred founded the Pratt Music Foundation in honor of his love for classical music. The Foundation provides financial assistance to students in grades 2-12 pursuing instruction in piano or strings. Donations to the Foundation can be made at: The Pratt Music Foundation, c/o Illinois Wesleyan University, PO Box 2900, Bloomington, IL 61702.

Letter received from President Blill Clinton in 2000

Letter written by Dr. Mildred Pratt to President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in 1994

 

Dr. Menah Pratt-Clark, Awadagin’s sister, followed her parents’ footsteps into the world of academia. She holds a B.A. and M.A. in Literary Studies from the University of Iowa, as well as, a M.A. and PhD. in Sociology from Vanderbilt University, and, is currently serving as the Vice Provost for Inclusion and Diversity and Vice President for Strategic Affairs at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Prior to her most recent position with Virginia Tech, she has served as a university compliance officer at Vanderbilt University, and Associate Chancellor for Strategic Affairs at the University of Illinois, a position she held for ten years. Menah is also author of the book, Critical Race, Feminism, and Education: A Social Justice Model.

If you would like to learn more about the Pratt family, please visit the Tate Archives and Special Collections on the 4th floor of IWU’s Ames Library!

Research Files: First African-American woman graduate

In an earlier post, we documented the first African-American men to graduate from IWU. Recently I came across an unknown author’s work on the subject of Black student history at IWU (this document is contained in Record Group 11-8/1/6). That author listed Josephine Mabel Jackson, Class of 1910, as IWU’s first African-American woman to graduate. There is no supporting documentation in the University Archives about the race of our students, but we can look elsewhere to confirm this particular claim.

With her name, I was able to ask the Illinois Regional Archives Depository staff for help. A birth registration book confirms that she was born on January 22, 1886 in Delavan, Tazewell County, Illinois, and lists her race as Negro. The entry also shows that her father William W. Jackson, from South Carolina, was a barber. Her mother Dora M. (nee Grady) Jackson was from Mississippi.

Jackson, 1909 Wesleyana

Jackson, 1909 Wesleyana

The photo to the left is our first image of her, where she is pictured among her Junior classmates. Only one source mentions she was involved in the YWCA but a few show that she participated in the Adelphic Society, one of the two literary societies on campus in her day.

No records of that group’s activities exist for this era but according to the 1907/08 Catalogue of Courses, students were advised to join such groups because “there is no single factor in college life that does so much to fit them for speaking in public and learning to think while in the act of speaking.”

 

Jackson cropped from Adelphic groups photo in 1909 Wesleyana

Jackson cropped from Adelphic group’s photo in 1909 Wesleyana

Adelphic Society members, 1909 Wesleyana

Adelphic Society members, 1909 Wesleyana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jackson's Senior class photo

Jackson’s Senior class photo from the 1911 Wesleyana

In the list of graduates published in the June 14, 1910 Argus, her full name is given as Josephine Mabel W. Jackson. There are no documents here that record her thoughts about her life but there are several indications that she remained connected to IWU after graduation. In one case, published by the Alumni Office among their brief class news reports, she sent a donation and greetings.

A brief note in April 1925 is the most substantive report there is on an important event in her life: the death of her mother. It ends with an enigmatic sentence: “Miss Jackson has been an unusually successful science teacher in various High Schools.”

A 1929 book called The Alumni Roll at least confirms the teaching part:
Jackson, Josephine M., B.S.  Graduate Chicago Training School, 1911, Teacher in High School, Harlan, Iowa; 1912-1913, Chicago Training School; Industrial teacher in Institutional Church, Chicago; Evangelistic work; Teacher; Student at State University of Iowa.  Box 67, Delavan, Illinois.

The last picture we have of her comes from a June 1960 alumni news source:

June 1960 IWU Bulletin, Alumni edition

June 1960 IWU Bulletin, Alumni edition

The last time Miss Jackson is mentioned in any of our publications is in September 1968. Bloomington’s Pantagraph says she died, aged 88, on Tuesday June 18, 1974 at Hopedale Medical Complex. The notice states she had been in the Hopedale Nursing Home “for some time.” (subscription needed to access: Wednesday, June 19, 1974 – Page 47).

I am sure there is more to be learned about Josephine Jackson’s life. Readers are invited to stop in and see the newly accumulated references to her in the University Archives. I would be happy to make suggestions for additional research strategies, and will gladly add more to her files with anything new that’s discovered!

Exhibits on student organizations: Black student groups

A new exhibit in The Ames Library (entry level) includes founding documents, artifacts and photos of three student organizations: the Black Student Union (BSU, 1968-present), Black Men in Action (BMIA, 1994) and Iota Zeta of Delta Sigma Theta (1972-1974).

A few years ago, some of the alumni involved in these groups recorded oral histories about their IWU experiences. Stop by the library and/or check out their recorded and transcribed memories at

De’Andre Hardy, Class of 2000

Anthony Gray, Class of 1998

Deon Hornsby, Class of 1997

Amanda Toney-Logan and Myrtis Sullivan, both Class of 1974

BSU-Minority Alumni Network Picnic April 2, 2005

BSU-Minority Alumni Network Picnic April 2, 2005

Research Files: Kwanzaa Events

Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday that celebrates African heritage. The very first campus Kwanza event at Illinois Wesleyan University was held on December 10th, 1996, thirty years after its creation. The event was run by the combined efforts of Monica Taylor, the multicultural affairs director at the time, and the Black Student Union, and is now an annual tradition.

1998 Kwanzaa Karenga

IWU Argus December 4, 1998

Kwanzaa is a week long African American harvest celebration created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, who was a professor of African studies at California State Univeristy. Illinois Wesleyan was fortunate enough to have Karenga visit its campus in 1998, where he presented his speech, “The Principles and Practice of Kwanzaa: Harvesting and Sharing the Good.” After this speech, Karenga and seven IWU students performed the ritual of the lighting of the Mishumaa.

“The mission of human life is to constantly bring good into the world.” – Maulana Karenga 1998

While the actual event occurs from December 26th until January 1st, IWU celebrates it in early December, so the students can celebrate it together on campus. The event includes singing, dancing, drum performances, as well as a feast of traditional Kwanzaa cuisine, such as catfish, chicken wings, black-eyed peas, and Joliffe rice. There is also a speech given about the seven principles of Kwanzaa; unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. This celebration takes place every year and is free and open to the public.

Research Files: Sociology Department history

This post summarizes changes noted in the Sociology Department by examining the Catalogue of Courses. Course catalogs from 1851-1954 are available online; the rest are available in print in the University Archives.

The 1898-99 Course Catalog contains the name of the first faculty member affiliated with the discipline: “Sain Welty, M.A., LL.B., Political Science and Sociology.” (See his photo at https://bit.ly/2ZAbG13) A Non-resident M.A. in Sociology was awarded to Joseph Cookman Nate the same year.

The first course in sociology found in the 1899-1900 catalog is offered under Political Science. The same catalog provides a description of the course and its proposed frequency (pp. 54-55):
“A course in Sociology will be offered in the spring of 1900, and thereafter on alternate years with Economics (1). The course will necessarily be brief, Gidding’s text being used as a basis.”

Sociology continues with the same listing/requirements (“to be taken Senior year and then alternating years with economics”) in the following:
1900-1901 Under the direction of Oliver Lincoln Lyon, PhD, Instructor in Sociology and Economics and with a fuller description:
“The purpose in sociology is to trace the evolution of society from its primitive forms to its present state of complexity, to note the reciprocal adjustment of life and environment, to see how forces both subjective and objective have operated to bring about a normal state of society and to examine the forces which are now tending to change its structure.”
The catalog lists three courses: An Elementary Study of Social Principles and
Phenomena, The Principles of Sociology, and Seminary. The latter carries this description: “A study of such sociological problems as Organized Charity, Socialism, Communism, Crime, Urban Life and Social Selection, Negro, Immigrant, Sociological Study of the Family, Social Teaching and the Influence of Christianity.”

– 1905-06 Julius Christian Zeller, B.., A.M., B.D. is Professor of Philosophy and Sociology in the 1905-1909 catalogs.

In June 1906 James Robert Lincoln Diggs became the first African-American in the U.S. to earn a Ph.D. in Sociology. He graduated from IWU’s Non-Resident degree program. [More information about him is available in this post.]

1910-11 Course offered under Social Sciences and led by Ross Lee Finney, Ph.B., A.M., S.T.B., who also teaches in Education, Psychology and Religion.
1912-13 First time there is a Department of Social Sciences listed. There are courses as diverse as Economic Theory, Money and Banking, Railroad Transportation, Trusts and Monopolies, Problems of Labor, Social Theory and more.
– 1917-18
– 1919-20
1921-22 Listed as the Department of Economics and Social Sciences and led by Carl W. Strow, A.B., A.M. This is the first time a description is listed for the department:
“The general aim of the Department is to educate for enlightened citizenship, for alert membership in society, for socialization of the individual. Systematic courses seek to accomplish this end by providing accurate, scientific information concerning social conditions and by the inculcation of scientific social attitudes.”
1924-27 Frederic M. Thrasher, A.B., A.M., and two years of additional graduate work, continues as Professor of Economics and Sociology.
1926-27 Sociology has its own department, headed by Thrasher, and offers this description:
“The courses presented in the department of sociology deal with the interplay of human personalities and groups and the problems arising therefrom. They are designed to afford to the average college student a broad understanding of social life and of human nature in its related and interacting aspects. Qualified students may pursue a course in this department designed to prepare them for teaching social science in high school or college or for technical training in social work.”
1928-29 Professor Samuel C. Ratcliffe, A.B., A.M, Ph.D. listed as department head and by 1931 carries this description:
“The courses presented in the department of sociology deal with the relationships between persons and groups and with the problems which arise therefrom. Each course contributes toward a more adequate understanding of some phase of social life and thus
promotes a more intelligent citizenship. Students who plan to enter any phase of social welfare work, as a vocation, should major in this department.”

In 1933 Edelbert Rodgers became the first African-American to graduate from IWU’s residential program with a Sociology degree. More information about him is available in this post.

[Research into this department’s development ceased with this year.]