Church threw its doors open to all races in a resolution that said: "We
therefore affirm that our invitations to worship, membership, and to
service are addressed to all persons without regard to race." Dr.
Easley had been a prime mover in that decision, saying at the church
conference that "racial barriers are being broken down in public
schools, in higher education, in industry. Surely the Christian church
cannot in good conscience give religious sanction to this outmoded
pattern [segregation]." Dr. J. Glenn Blackburn, the church pastor, said
that the vote was not unanimous but that "it was a solid decision."
In advance of the April trustee meeting the Student Legislature
again asked for desegregation, and Old Gold and Black promoted the
cause editorially:
There is no excuse for the trustees to put off further any action which
should have been taken long ago. To do so would be to deny the ethics and
principles on which Wake Forest is founded, and to fail to recognize a major
challenge of our time…. If …the trustees fail to integrate the undergraduate
facilities, it will be indicative of a backward, narrow minded outlook which
would refute entirely the basic purposes of higher education.
On April 27, 1962, the trustees wiped out segregation at Wake
Forest. The Race Relations Committee, headed by L. Y. Ballentine of
Raleigh, recommended integration, and the trustees debated for one
and one-half hours. In the end they bowed to the demands of the time
and voted seventeen to nine to integrate the college. In making the
decision public the trustees acknowledged, by agreement, that "a
minority vote was registered in opposition thereto." The minutes of
the board meeting do not give a breakdown of the vote. Despite the
delay, Wake Forest became the first major private college in the
South to integrate its student body and one of the first in the nation to
take that step.
Edward Reynolds, who had a straight-A record at Shaw University,
arrived at Wake Forest for summer school and was the first black to
be enrolled as a regular undergraduate. He was to excel in his studies,
go to graduate school, become a professor of history, and reflect
credit on his alma mater.
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