history, mathematics, and physics). A division of graduate studies was
created, and Dr. Henry S. Stroupe was named its director.
The graduate and professional schools also were the first to be
integrated at Wake Forest, but that was not an impulsive decision.
Consideration of ending racial discrimination in the Baptist colleges
of North Carolina goes back at least to 1955, when the convention
approved a resolution saying that Baptists "have a responsibility and
opportunity to open [their colleges] to qualified applicants regardless
of race." No school moved immediately to comply, and there were
several reasons.
For one thing, their trustees were mainly of a generation that had
accepted segregation as right and proper, and just as the South at large
was slow to respond to the demands of equality, so were they. There
was also a fear―and it was not without basis―that integrating a
traditionally white private college would result in loss of financial
support from some backers of considerable means.
In the papers of Odus Mull there is a letter written by C. B. Miller
of Albemarle two weeks after the convention took its integration
stand in 1955. Miller told Mull, who was then a Wake Forest trustee,
that he had made a five-hundred dollar pledge to the college and
added: "I have no intention of paying my pledge in the event
integration is started or anticipated at Wake Forest."
While there were some early racial activists on the campus, the
student body was almost as slow to adopt a nondiscriminatory attitude
as were the trustees. In 1957 the Student Legislature, in a vote of
fifteen to five, killed a resolution calling on the board to admit "any
qualified student regardless of his race or color." After the decision,
the legislators expressed "full confidence" in the trustees to act in the
best interests of the college in the matter of racial policy.
For the college year 1958-59, the Admissions Office, which had
just been established under the direction of Prof. A. L. Aycock, turned
down two black applicants, one from Sierra Leone and the other from
eastern North Carolina. Professor Aycock said that neither was
academically qualified to enter Wake Forest but that he had also
informed the applicants that the Board of Trustees had not authorized
Negro admissions.
That position prompted an editorial in the October issue of The
Student magazine which was widely reprinted in daily newspapers
across the state and which drew a storm of response from both
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