Black Pioneers recall shoddy treatment, ultimate triumph
Some moments never lose their power.
Michigan for his admissions interview. He
so impressed the Carolina interviewer that
he was offered a place in the School of Daniel Lanier ’ 57 (MSW), Romallus Murphy ’ 56 (LLBJD) and George Greene ’ 57 (LLBJD) are among the first inductees of the
Black Alumni Reunion’s Golden Rams Society, for alumni who matriculated at UNC at least 50 years ago.
Even 50 years later, Daniel Lanier ’ 57
(MSW) struggled to compose himself
remembering his dubious welcome to
Lanier was working on a bachelor’s
degree at N.C. A&T State University
when the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v.
Board of Education ruling on school
desegregation came down in 1954, opening new possibilities for graduate school.
After graduating the following year, he
applied to the social work school at the
University of Michigan. UNC’s School of
Social Work agreed to interview him to
reduce the hardship of traveling to
Social Work’s class, and he accepted.
But when he showed up on the Chapel among the first to be inducted at the nurse at the student infirmary; Hortense
Hill campus the first day of classes, the Black Alumni Reunion into the newly K. McClinton, the first African-American
school said he needed an acceptance letter formed Golden Rams Society, an honor lecturer, in the School of Social Work; H.
from UNC first, and a professor took him reserved for those who had matriculated Bentley Renwick ’ 66 (MEd), assistant direc-to the admissions office to get one. Before to the University at least 50 years ago. tor of admissions and academic dean in
handing him the letter, Lanier said, the Golden Rams Lanier, Greene and the College of Arts and Sciences; John W.
dean of admissions told him, “We don’t Romallus Murphy ’ 56 (LLBJD) attended Hatch, Kenan Professor of health educa-want you here, but we have to admit you. the Black Pioneers Banquet the following tion in the School of Public Health; and,
Don’t cause any trouble.” night at the Chapel Hill Sheraton Hotel. posthumously, Blyden Jackson, the first
Lanier turned that warning upside down David Dansby ’ 61, the first black under- African-American full chaired, tenured
and didn’t let it cause him any trouble. He graduate to receive a UNC degree, was Kenan Professor, and his wife, Roberta
took full advantage of his Carolina educa- among the 130 pioneers to attend the Bowles Hodges Jackson, the first tenured
tion and went on to earn a doctorate. On event. The evening focused on the black African-American female professor, both
Nov. 2, he and George Greene ’ 57 (LLBJD), faculty and staff pioneers, honoring in the English department.
both celebrating their 50th reunion, were Rebecca Clark, the first licensed practical The program opened with a documen-
tary about black involvement in UNC
over time, with honest recollections, such
as basketball star Charlie Scott ’ 70, who
recalled having to do things by himself
after class and practice. Yet he held no
grudge against his classmates. “They would
have had to change their lifestyle to spend
time with me,” he said.
Dansby acknowledged that his social life
took place at N.C. Central and elsewhere
in Durham. “College is supposed to be
one of the best times of your life,” he said.
“It was not that way for me or my contemporaries.” But because others followed and
did a lot of work, he said, black students
now have a better experience.
Dansby and others formed the first
GAA Board Elections, Annual Meeting Set
Ballots for electing new members to P.O. Box 660, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27514-
the UNC General Alumni Association 0660 no later than March 31. Facsimile
Board of Directors were mailed with this replies are not accepted.
issue of the Carolina Alumni Review to all Chair for 2008-09, Randy K. Jones
dues-paid GAA members as of Jan. 1. ’ 79, who was elected last year as chair-Carolina couples each receive a double elect by the Board of Directors, and those
ballot. All GAA members are eligible and elected from this ballot assume office at
encouraged to vote in each race, includ- the Annual Alumni Luncheon in Chapel
ing races representing areas of the coun- Hill on Saturday, May 10.
try other than those in which the mem- The annual meeting of the General
ber lives. Alumni Association is scheduled to begin
Completed ballots must be received at at 9 a.m. April 12 at the George Watts
the George Watts Hill Alumni Center, Hill Alumni Center.