| the history of wake forest
Union had placed on the cover of its schedule of the year’s films a
picture of Al Jolson in blackface.
In response to vigorous protests by black students The Birth of
a Nation was canceled, but others in the campus community ex-
pressed criticism of the College Union because of what they re-
garded as the Union’s suppression of free speech. From both sides
there were complaints about what had happened.
Not long after the film incident a black student removed from
the Kappa Alpha house in Davis Hall a Confederate flag which was
on display in a window. The fraternity defended the flag as a symbol
of veneration for Robert E. Lee and the Old South; blacks saw it as
an expression of white supremacy and as an insult to blacks.
Eventually, compromises were reached about both the film and
the flag. The movie was quietly shown to a more limited audience
after prefatory explanations about the history and the cinematic
significance of the film, and Kappa Alpha, after conferring with
black student leaders, agreed to limit its flying of a Confederate flag
to six times a year on such occasions as Lee’s birthday and the an-
niversary of the founding of the chapter, and always, the fraternity
said, a public announcement would be made in advance that for a
given reason the flag would be displayed.
These two episodes of mistrust and anger, as well as other per-
ceived manifestations of racism at Wake Forest, led to a February
forum on racial insensitivity, sponsored by the Director of Minor-
ity Affairs and the Chaplain, and to the appearance, a week or so
later, at Black Awareness celebrations, of two nationally recognized
black leaders, Julian Bond and Dick Gregory. The faculty, without
dissent, passed a resolution urging that “both racial provocation
and suspicion of racial provocation” cease and be “replaced by good
will and reconciliation.” And President Scales issued a directive to
the effect that for every open position on the faculty efforts must be
made to bring in women and minorities for the interviewing pro-
cess. (At this time, there were twelve minority members of the fac-
ulty, or 5.02% of the total, and fifty-one women faculty members,
or 21.34% of the total.)
Compliance with Title IX continued to have effect on Wake For-
est’s athletic programs. Gene Hooks announced that men’s swim-
ming would be eliminated as an intercollegiate activity, thus narrowing
slightly the gap between the numbers of men and women on athletic
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