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When the king of Thailand granted an audience to UNT's College of Music representative at his personal palace, first to receive an honorary doctoral degree and second to enjoy the One O'Clock Lab Band (summer 2004), these were great honors to our UNT alumni in Thailand.
Moreover, the jazz band made the great contribution to the Thai of performing in the auditorium for the public and donated all money to charity. This great performance gives us pleasure and happiness as alumni of UNT in Thailand, and we won't forget it.
Chalermpol Waitayangkoon ('88 Ph.D.)
I was honored by the summer special issue, 50 Years of Progress and Opportunity, 1954-2004. As an African American and recent graduate of North Texas, I was humbled by the experiences of the African American students on campus during the 1950s and 1960s. Thank you for sharing a piece of important history with everyone. Great job!
Tramaine Anderson ('03)
Silver Spring, Md.
I have just completed reading the special issue. I am disappointed to see that you left out three African American females under the women's track and field category.
In 1980, Joan Bennett, Debra Pinnix and Julie Bergeron made the Indoor National All-America Team by placing second in the one-mile relay. "Mean" Joe Greene was brought in to present us our awards at a special banquet. We were coached by John McKenzie.
Joan McCoo ('81)
Thank you for telling the story of desegregation at UNT in your summer issue. While it is a good start, I expect there is more to tell.
Please consider asking students who were denied admission to the university before and after Brown vs. Board of Education to relate their experiences and how their lives worked out as a result. Perhaps there are students who were discriminated against who are not as accepting of what happened to them as those interviewed for this issue. We need to be hearing from them.
It would be helpful for you to write (and for alumni to read) one or more investigative pieces that asks the 1950s Board of Regents members to defend their decision to "let him sue" and to tell us what they think of their decision now. Perhaps there are regrets or apologies the members and the university would like to express.
And the fraternities that engaged in racial epithets, please let us know their names and ask them to tell us what they are doing now to prevent recurrences. Perhaps they too have a regret or apology to share with us.
It's interesting that African Americans protested at least twice because the campus newspaper had not provided them enough coverage. Is the coverage fair and balanced now, and if not, what is being done? For that matter the same concerns about balance could be expressed about The North Texan. I happen to be looking through the spring 2004 issue.
Many people believe that most (if not all) problems of racial discrimination were "taken care of" by Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s. I would suggest you ask 100 African American students on campus if they believe the field of opportunity is level for them now at UNT. And then ask 100 Caucasian and other students on campus if they believe the field of opportunity is level for African Americans at UNT now and then compare the results. I hope you'll let us know what you find out.
I understand we now have an administrative department for diversity at the university. It would be helpful to know more about what those in this department are doing, what challenges they face and how alumni and others can help.
As you can see by now, I am troubled that not enough is being done to remedy past racial injustices at our university and that more injustices may be being done. I hope I'm wrong.
So I challenge the university and The North Texan to create and publish the next chapters of this important matter of diversity, and I challenge our alumni to read and to respond.
David Wheatley ('75)
I read with great interest your rather objective and unembellished accounts of 50 years of desegregation at UNT (which contrast favorably with similar stories, but ones marked by selective amnesia, that I receive from my own alma mater in Chicago).
In 1975 my wife, Micheline Rice-Maximin, a native of the French Caribbean with degrees from the University of Paris-Sorbonne, was immediately admitted to the graduate program and offered a teaching fellowship at UNT upon meeting with Dr. Solveig Olsen, the foreign language chair and a woman remarkably open to diversity. After receiving an M.A. in French from UNT, Micheline did her doctorate at UT-Austin and went on to teach at Brown University and Swarthmore College.
UNT International Student Adviser, 1978-1986
I just finished reading the summer issue and especially enjoyed the article on Greek life at UNT and how it evolved. Even though you really only spotlighted the African American fraternities and sororities, I felt compelled to write.
My fraternity, Sigma Alpha Mu, while not on campus right now, was very active from 1967 until 1987. In 1969, we were the very first fraternity to pledge an African American to our all white, and at the time, mostly Jewish organization. He was welcomed into our brotherhood from the very beginning.
Unfortunately, there were people on campus who weren't quite as open as we were. In any case, we didn't really care. He was, and still is, a great person. After that, SAM went on and continued to recruit other African Americans, Hispanics and men with good moral character for years. Some years later, we even were lucky enough to have the younger brother of that first African American member.
I was proud to be a part of that group of young men who I think played just as big a part of the history of integration at UNT as the other traditionally African American Greek letter organizations. I am still proud today.
Marc Perlstein ('74)