Jim Garriss ’ 69, the first black member
of Carolina’s undergraduate admissions
office, escorted his daughter, Kirstin Garriss,
a junior, to the dinner. Jim Garriss paid
tribute to Hayden Bently Renwick ’ 66,
who died in September. Renwick, who
rose to associate dean of the College of Arts
and Sciences during his 20-year career at
UNC, is credited with increasing the number
of black students at UNC nearly tenfold.
Kirstin Garriss has taken on the task of
reviving Black Ink. When the publication
that covered the Black Student Movement
was started 40 years ago by Cureton
Johnson ’ 71, it came out twice a month.
Garriss, as current editor-in-chief, was
pleased to publish a single issue last year.
Though she has a staff of 20 this year,
budget constraints have proved a challenge,
but she believes the publication is as impor-
tant as it ever was.
“We want to make sure the campus
knows we are a force,” she said. “We want
all students to know why we are here and
‘We Change Lives Now Because Our Lives Were Changed Here’
Reunion’s Black Pioneers Mark Accomplishments With Tales of Perseverance
Harriett Nunn Haith ’ 59 (MEd) and her oommate were among the first black
women on campus. They joined other
graduate women housed in Kenan dorm
and were fortunate enough to have a room
with a private bath.
“Having a private bath was nice, but the
At the Black Alumni Reunion’s Black
reason was not,” said Haith, who made her
career as a science teacher. “It was to sepa-
rate us out. But still, we were delighted.”
Gradually, over the years, more black
women were admitted to Carolina, and the
school ran out of rooms with private baths.
Integration had begun.
Pioneers dinner Nov. 7 at the Sheraton
Imperial in Durham, alumni, mainly those
who had been students at UNC in the
1960s, shared their stories of paving the
way for those who would come after them.
This year’s Black Alumni Reunion chair, Stacie Blakeney Hewett ’ 89, center, is flanked by several of the Black Pioneers and friends
who attended the Saturday night banquet honoring African-American alumni from the classes of 1952-70.
Even so, during his sophomore year, he
wanted to leave and attend traditionally
black Howard University in Washington,
Enough time had passed for most alumni to
forgive, but they couldn’t forget.
George McDaniel ’ 67, CEO of an
investment bank who lives in Oakland,
D.C., he said. “But my dad talked me into
not being a quitter.” He stuck it out, and
he’s glad he did.
Calif., recalled getting an A-minus on his
algebra midterm. Then one day, he said, “I
made the mistake of introducing myself to
the professor when I saw him walking
across campus.” Once the professor had a
face to put with the name on the exam
papers, “I wound up getting a D-minus in
“Persevering taught us how to survive
through almost all types of adversity,” he
said. “It trained me and prepared me for the
uncertainties you face in life.”
That attitude even tainted the mindset of
black students. Jackson and a friend saw a
young black man standing on the steps of a
dormitory. Neither knew him, and they
both assumed he was a janitor. That “jani-
tor” turned out to be a student, Phillip Clay
’ 68, who is now chancellor of MIT.
“But I didn’t challenge it because then
I’d make myself a target.”
About 100 black students had enrolled in
the mid-1960s, a decade that became more
volatile as it progressed. The students were
spread so thin, said Jimmy Barnes ’ 69, now
a pharmacist at UNC Hospitals, that he
often was the only black student in his
classes. “We had to fend for ourselves,”
“There were no blacks on any of the
athletic teams, no black faculty, very few
black staff, other than members of the cus-
todial staff,” Jackson said. “If you saw a
black person on campus, you could safely
assume that person was a custodian or
laborer. One of my white classmates in my
dorm asked me to get more toilet paper
because he thought I worked there.”
Walter Jackson ’ 67, a retired journalist,
came to Chapel Hill in 1963 not knowing
anybody who had come to Carolina, black
or white. In fact, he didn’t know many col-
lege-educated people, period, other than his
high school teachers. He didn’t encounter
hostility, he said, but he does remember the
tremendous social isolation.
“Black students were ignored and rele-
gated to the side,” Jackson said. “I might go
into the library and sit at a table, and all of
the sudden find a vacant area around me.”
Barnes said. “The law said, ‘We have to
accept you here, but we don’t have to like
it.’ They pretty much let us know it.”
Confederate flags hung around campus,
and at halftime during football games, the
band played Dixie, and everybody was
expected to stand and sing.
Schools at the time were trying to enroll
black students to integrate. To this day,
Barnes doesn’t know whether he was admitted to UNC because of his grades or because
of his resiliency to withstand the rigors of
being on the front lines of integration.