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Remembering the early days
Summer 2004      

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Remembering the early days


Remembering the early days: 1, 2, 3, 4


Floydell Barton Hall and Bettye Morgan

Floydell Barton Hall (left) and Bettye Morgan

Bettye Morgan: I went to apply for the dormitory, and Dean [Imogene] Bentley said, "Yes, we will be open next year (1957)." So we got in. Floydell Barton Hall ('60) was my roommate, and Elaine Harvey Williams and Beverly Gipson Walls ('74) were our suitemates. We had what we called a hostess, and she really didn't like us at first. She said that the people next door said we were making too much noise, but we were about the quietest ones on campus. She finally changed. I think her frustration was due to the fact that she was out of Mansfield, and they had a lot of racial problems at that time. She was kind of out for blood at first, but she saw that we were there to do our studies. She began to really enjoy us after that.

Floydell Barton Hall: I think we were the first blacks to live on campus. … They did not allow any black boys to live on campus at that time.

Elaine Harvey Williams: I applied for living quarters [in Fall 1957]. My roommate, Beverly Gipson Walls ('74) (she is now deceased), Floydell Barton Hall ('60), Bettye Morgan ('60) and I were the first four black students to live in Oak Street Hall. When we got there, all was well. Nobody was ugly. Nobody said any rude remarks to us. They looked at us. But there we were.

Burlyce Sherrell Logan: The girls in the dorm treated us really badly those first few months. Later on in the semester we all came down with the Asian flu. That's when we started talking to one another. … We were so sick we had to take care of each other. We ended up becoming really close. After that we shared food, the living room, our record player and our favorite recordings, like Johnny Mathis' "Chances Are" and "The Twelfth of Never."

Leon King: We were very fortunate to find housing out in the community. … It was a problem for us to get to the campus. We had a bus, but it ran probably once every hour and it only ran for about two or three hours in the mornings and the same in the afternoons. So we had to walk to the campus and a lot of times we would take our chances and put our fingers up and we'd catch a ride.

Loita Alexander Gibson: Most of the families we lived with were well known blacks there in the community. They really just took over. It was like we became their children, and they would look after us. … There was always somebody we could go to and talk to other than having to call home to our parents or wait until we got home to our parents to discuss things that were going on. They were always there for us. … And the bus driver was great. He knew what time you went to school in the mornings, and if we weren't out on that corner because we were late, he would sit there and blow his horn until we came out. … A lot of times we did walk back in the afternoons.


Leon King: There were some days we would attend classes that some things were said that would make the hair stand on your head. But we also knew that we had to grin and bear it. We felt like we had to be two or three times better than the average Anglo student in our classrooms.

Mary Dunn Smith: I remember there was a class, "American, Country and Social Dance," that was part of our degree plan. … There were three black girls, but the class was a mixed class and there were no black males. So they gave us credit for that class because they didn't want the mixing. We got a credit without attending. I didn't get to take my swimming class until I was a senior at North Texas because they wouldn't let us in the swimming pool before that. But I did take that class finally.

Hayward Sparks: The outside pressures were great at that time. The University of Mississippi was integrating and Alabama. … When you're in class and no black staff, you've got to feel strange in that kind of situation, especially when the climate was so bad outside. ... All of that was in my mind as to what I would face when I got to North Texas from a drive of 35 miles. I drove 35 miles every day. … We had classes over in the old administration building. I had English in that building. The business administration building had to be 50 or 60 years old at that time with no air, hot. And generally I dressed just like I am now [in a suit]. It was hot as it could be.

Burlyce Sherrell Logan: It was the most beautiful experience at North Texas in my music classes. I loved it. I wish I could do it all over again, it was so wonderful. But there were some days I wish I hadn't experienced.

Floydell Barton Hall: I was a math major and I did not have anyone else in there other than myself who was black. … Throughout my four years there I think maybe one year there was one black in one of my math classes.

Bettye Morgan: A lot of the students fell by the wayside because at first it was an extreme challenge, and you had to have that stick-to-it-tive-ness to be able to weather the storm. Sometimes it would get rough. You would say, "Well I don't know if I'm going to pass this class or not." But I was determined. I didn't care if I failed them all. I was going to come back and do it again.


  Leon King

Leon King

Leon King: I had a lab partner, Sandra Palmer. I met Sandra not only in [James Lott's] class, but she was a good friend of [Mary Dunn Smith's]. Sandra eventually became a professional golfer.

I was accustomed to looking through a microscope with one eye open and one closed. At North Texas you had to look through a microscope with one eye looking at the specimen and the other eye open to draw what you saw. And I never shall forget something. I was looking for something and I found it, and I said, "Sandra, I got it."

And the next thing I know, Sandra's face is next to my cheek trying to peek through the microscope to see it. That was frightening, because back in the day that was an absolute no-no among some people, but for her, Sandra never gave it a second thought.

Mary Dunn Smith: In the health, physical education and recreation department, the other students were very nice to us. They would invite us over to study. We invited them to our home to study. But there was one occasion when we went over to study with two of the white females when the landlord came and looked through the window and saw us and told us we had to leave. They felt bad about it, but we told them we understood. And so they would come over to where we lived on Lakey Street and study with us.

Loita Alexander Gibson: I was a physical education major with an education minor. We picked and chose our friends. There were a lot of whites in our classes that we got along very well with. But most of them came to us first rather than us going to them.

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1, 2, 3, 4


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