Burlyce Logan

Burlyce Logan (Photo by Gary Payne)At 73 years old, and more than 50 years after taking her first classes at North Texas, Burlyce Sherrell Logan wore her cap and gown and walked across the commencement stage this May. 

Logan moved to Denton and enrolled at North Texas in 1956, just two years after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Plessy v. Ferguson decision by declaring separate schools inherently unequal.

The first step in the desegregation of North Texas took place in 1954, when the first African American graduate student enrolled. In fall 1956, Logan was a member of the first full class of freshman African American students. She planned to major in music and looked forward to making friends, playing piano and earning her degree.

What she didn’t expect was to watch crosses burn in her front yard, to be pelted with rocks or to be pushed into traffic on her walk to class.

“The first year was the hardest,” she says.

Logan found peace in her music classes while she was on campus, where she said music students and professors treated her like any other student. She could count on choir practice or playing the piano to lift her spirits and give her a break from the environment around her.

“But after two years, I had to leave,” Logan says. “I just couldn’t take the pressure. But, that was then. Today is a whole different world.”

When Logan left in 1958, she decided to move on with her life, but she knew one day she would finish her degree. She got married, raised children and moved around the country, ending up in California and Oregon. And in 1996, homesick, she called UNT and learned there were job openings.

Logan packed her van and drove to Denton from Klamath Falls, Ore.

“I was set,” she says. “I could move back home.”

Logan held a few different jobs in Denton during the next 10 years, including work at UNT. And in 2005, almost 50 years after she first enrolled at North Texas, she enrolled in classes again.

“I am so glad I came back to UNT,” Logan says. “The culture is completely different. The fabric of this campus is colorful, and it makes me feel good to be a part of the pattern. People are just plain nice and friendly, and I don’t feel afraid. I can finally study and be comfortable.”

She says the “only sadness about this journey” is that her parents, who died in a house fire in 1982, were not here to see her walk across the stage. “But, I know they were here in spirit,” says Logan, who was cheered on at commencement by about 40 family members.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in applied arts and sciences, Logan plans to start working on a master’s degree in history in the fall.

University officials note that Logan and other pioneers made a difference for all future generations of students.

“Burlyce Logan and all those who set foot on the UNT campus, or any college campus, opened the door for African Americans today,” says Mona Hicks, assistant vice president for campus life. “I wish every prospective and current student and graduate could learn about Burlyce and be proud of the courage she has added to the UNT legacy.”

Logan hopes her story will inspire students and says she sees the impact she and her 1956 classmates had every time she comes to campus.

“I do think we made an impression,” Logan says. “The people who were here were already indoctrinated to the way it was. The world has evolved, and people with it. This campus is made up of young people who want to study, get an education and change the world. They make their own decisions and will make this world a better place.”

 

See Logan’s story in other media outlets:

New York Times >>

The Chronicle of Higher Education >>

Denton Record Chronicle >>

NBC5 DFW >>

Star-Telegram >>

26 comments

This story is such an inspirational piece! This is why I continue to educate myself! It has been proven; that there is no expiration in getting a higher education!

Comment #1 posted by Jacqueline Greer (not verified) 3 years 17 weeks ago.

You made me cry! Thank you.

Comment #2 posted by Bruce Prince (not verified) 3 years 17 weeks ago.

I'm glad people like you paved the way for black students to attend college. Now we may study and enjoy life without harassment or discrimination.

Comment #3 posted by Joel (not verified) 3 years 17 weeks ago.

You are such an encouragement. I attended U N T for 1966 -1968, and I have just been admitted back this summer. I expect to graduate in 12/2012. Your success has validated my efforts. I wish you the very best.

Comment #4 posted by LaJeanne (not verified) 3 years 17 weeks ago.

Loved it from beginning to end. Thank you for being so strong Burlyce! You are truly an inspiration! May God bless you in all that you do.

Comment #5 posted by Nicole Terrell (not verified) 3 years 17 weeks ago.

Your story is amazing! As an African American student who graduated with an undergraduate degee in 2008 from UNT and is now pursuing a masters from UNT, I am so thankful that you and others like you paved the way for my generation. Thank you for your courage to go to school during a time when you were mistreated by some because of your skin color and for the tenacity to see it through and graduate 50 years later. Congratulations!

Britney

Comment #6 posted by Britney (not verified) 3 years 17 weeks ago.

Hey Logan

This is Mabel, your desk mate in the Biology Class 1122 by Don Smith, some good times ehhhh?
Anyway, I just wanted to congratulate you on your hard work, and let you know that your determination in the face of health issues , family responsibility and physical pain you endured while coming to this class every three days in a week, was what I admired most about you.

God bless you.

Mabel Aluoch

Comment #7 posted by Mabel (not verified) 3 years 18 weeks ago.

Ms. Logan, I had the pleasure on graduating in the same ceremony as you. I came to celebrate my accomplishments,but grateful to also witnessed a lifetime historical event in the history of UNT .When you walked across that stage I yelled and cheered for you! You have set an example for all of us to follow that endurance is of the heart and spirit to achieve your dreams without boundaries. I am honored to be a witness to such greatness,a historical moment, and share the UNT alumni title with you. I will tell this story to future generations to come.God Bless You and much continued success in the future!

Comment #8 posted by Porsche Carson (not verified) 3 years 18 weeks ago.

I just want to say thank you for everything. You are truly an inspiration to me, and you make me proud to be an African American student.

Comment #9 posted by Jamar (not verified) 3 years 18 weeks ago.

Congratulations! Mrs. Logan thank you for making a way for all of us your truly an inspiration!!

Comment #10 posted by Nicole Noi-Mingle (not verified) 3 years 18 weeks ago.

Congratulations! What a wonderful story - a testament to how far we as a society have come and a realization to the steps we still need to take. I teared up when reading this story. I recommend reading the other articles linked below, they paint an inspirational story.

Comment #11 posted by Anonymous (not verified) 3 years 18 weeks ago.

What a beautiful story! I am so proud of you! My mom went back to school after many years too and is now working on her second Masters degree! Good luck to you! Congratulations!

Comment #12 posted by Isabel (not verified) 3 years 18 weeks ago.

Mrs. Logan,

You are an absolute inspiration!! I am proud to welcome you as a fellow UNT Alum!! You have accomplished what very few have even dared to attempt, and have persevered challenges that your many of us today (myself certainly included) could never begin to imagine or understand!

Enjoy this moment! You deserve it!!

Semper Fidelis,
Trevor W. Sewell
UNT, 2010

Comment #13 posted by Trevor Sewell (not verified) 3 years 18 weeks ago.

I was one of the students who walked with Mrs. Logan and I'm glad I had the chance to be part of something like that. She is an inspiration. Good luck in everything you do!

Comment #14 posted by Travis (not verified) 3 years 18 weeks ago.

Congratulations, Ms. Logan!

My eyes teared up at Commencement yesterday when your story was shared!! UNT is proud to have you back here! Best of luck in your future endeavors!

Comment #15 posted by Anonymous (not verified) 3 years 18 weeks ago.

This is an amazing and inspiring story! I recently returned to college myself and I can understand what it's like to return to school. It's hard but will certainly be rewarding when it's all done. I admire you and wish the best for you. What an achievement. May God continue blessing you!

Comment #16 posted by Debbie White-Woodard (not verified) 3 years 18 weeks ago.

Congratulations, Ms. Logan. I cannot attend but I will definitely cheer for you in spirit. What a beautiful story! I am so inspired. I too am returning to school later in life. This gives me so much inspiration!!! Kudos to UNT for posting this story.

Comment #17 posted by Sallie (not verified) 3 years 18 weeks ago.

Congratulations, Ms. Logan! Thank you for your courage both 50+years ago and today. You have no idea how many people will be inspired by your story - I certainly am!

Comment #18 posted by Cyndi Grady (not verified) 3 years 18 weeks ago.

What a beautiful and inspirational story! Best wishes on the next phase of your journey.

Comment #19 posted by kristen (not verified) 3 years 18 weeks ago.

Great to know you finally did it, Burlyce! Congratulations! You are an inspiration!

Comment #20 posted by Becky King (not verified) 3 years 18 weeks ago.

What an inspiration you are! My heart ached when I read of your first year. You have proven that the human spirit can overcome adversity and succeed! A BIG congratulations to you, Burlyce!

Comment #21 posted by Sue (not verified) 3 years 18 weeks ago.

this really is a great story that showed strength. i am a african american male so i have also experienced some bad things, but i really applaud you on coming back and finishing up. congratulations and this really empowers me to continue on my path towards success thank you very much =)

Comment #22 posted by Dwight Douglas Jr (not verified) 3 years 18 weeks ago.

What an amazing story! Being middle-aged students ourselves, my husband and I can understand what it is like to return to school. It's harder to keep up the energy required to complete the workload of assignments and exams, and plus tend to the responsibilities of daily life, a mortgage, jobs. It's a lot to tackle, so KUDOS to a woman who at 73 years old is not only achieving gaining a bachelors degree but also advancing into the realm of graduate student. Best of luck!

Comment #23 posted by Angela White (not verified) 3 years 18 weeks ago.

Congratulations Mrs. Logan, and thank you! Your journey has made a difference for so many others. I'm proud that today UNT is a place where everyone is encouraged to succeed. Proud to be UNT!

Comment #24 posted by Kelly (not verified) 3 years 18 weeks ago.

What an awesome story!

Comment #25 posted by Paula (not verified) 3 years 18 weeks ago.

What an amazing woman--so inspiring and courageous! I am so glad to have learned about Mrs. Logan's journey from this article today, and I wish her--and all the graduates!--congratulations!

Comment #26 posted by Dr. Nancy L. Stockdale (not verified) 3 years 18 weeks ago.

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