Growing Black Presence in the Modern Era, 1973-2000


Alumni Voices

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tica Davis Green ’94
Born 1972 in Florida. Discusses how aware she was of the lack of African American staff and faculty. Graduated with a degree in biology and philosophy. Green is currently director of the Academic Success Program at GC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sharon Parker ’92
Born 1969 in Roanoke, Virginia. Discusses racial awareness among residence life staff. Graduated with a degree in business administration and sociology.  She does HIV research and does interventions for at-risk youth.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bill McClain ’75
Born 1947 in Winston-Salem. Shares why he decided to attend Greensboro College. Graduated with a major in Business Administration. Then worked in finance.

 

To Hear More from These Alumni and Others

GC’s subsequent generations of African American students from the mid-1970s through the 1990s became more a part of the campus community by building new organizations and helping to integrate others. In student groups, especially the new United Afro-American Students (UAAS), student government, residence life, athletics and in the classroom African Americans excelled and bonded to form a community of strong leaders. Not without tense incidents or difficult conversations, their time on campus coincided with the school, state and nation’s efforts to adjust to integration and to the legacies of the Civil Rights era.

 

Bill McClain and the Birth of the UAAS

McClain, a Winston-Salem native, transferred to GC in 1972. During his days in GC he worked as a bank teller for two different banks, and became a personal banker. He attended GC to play basketball, and for the Business Administration program.  In an interview, Mr. McClain remembered being treated well on campus by white students, faculty and administrators. In his three years on campus there were only a few racist incidents involving just a few students.

It didn’t take long for McClain to discover, however, that there were no specific activities on campus for the small number of African-American students present. Moreover, there was no Student Government Association (SGA) support for sponsoring such activities. The College’s African-American students actually had to go to surrounding colleges and universities (UNCG, A&T Univ., Bennett College, Guilford College, etc.) in order to find them.

McClain approached GC’s president, the Rev. Dr. Howard C. Wilkinson, to discuss the issue and the possible formation of an African-American group on campus. Dr. Wilkinson encouraged McClain to work on the development of such a group and sent him to talk with Duke University’s Chaplain and Dean of Black Student Affairs since Duke University had an active and successful African-American organization on its campus. After those meetings, McClain began working with other African-Americans at GC to develop an organization. The SGA, however, was unresponsive and voted against the official formation of such an organization.

Undaunted, McClain, Rhonda Ryan, and a few other African American students formed their unofficial group in 1973. They self-funded and hosted popular dances, socials, featuring local African-American bands, that drew supportive and integrated audiences.  Later in the 1973-74 school year, SGA formally acknowledged and began funding the newly named United Afro-American Society. This was welcome news because it meant that the group would receive annual funding from the SGA to help support activities and events on campus. Bill McClain and Rhonda Ryan served as the first Co-Chairpersons of the UAAS.

1973-74 UAAS. Co-chair McClain is fourth from the left in the back row. Co-chair Rhonda Ryan is seated on the left side.

Courtesy of Greensboro College

McClain was also the only African American on the basketball team when he arrived on campus in 1972. He complained about it and was asked to help in recruiting some more African American players. McClain became the first black assistant coach during his senior season in 1974-75. That year six African American men were part of the thirteen-man team.

1974-75 basketball team. Asst. Coach Bill McClain, bottom right

Courtesy of Greensboro College

 

Student Life

Courtesy of Greensboro College

In addition to UAAS and sports teams, African American male and female students became more involved in campus clubs and organizations and events through the 1970s. GC’s Theater’s 1976 production of Eugene O’Neill’s 1937 drama “The Emperor Jones” was the first to feature African American student actors. The play celebrates black empowerment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some African American Students in the 1970s

Courtesy of Greensboro College

 

 

 

Terrance “Wizard” Hart ’75. Came to GC to play basketball.  He was also active in UAAS and graduated with a degree in physical education.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Courtesy of Greensboro College

 

 

 

 

Johnny Barnes ’76  was involved as an assistant dorm counselor and in the Chamber Singers, APO, Chorale, Financial Advisory Board, GC Players, UAAS, Soccer, and as junior class president.  Barnes graduated with a degree in political science.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Courtesy of Greensboro College

 

 

Marilyn Monroe ’77 majored in Sociology and Social Work. Monroe was the Dorm Vice-President, a member of the Gospel Choir, the North Carolina Black Student Congress, a member of the Sociology Club and the treasurer for UAAS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Postscripts on African American History in Greensboro in the 1980s and 1990s

  • In November 1979, members of the Communist Workers Party assembled in Morningside Homes, a black public housing complex, in Greensboro, for a “Death to the Klan” rally and textile worker organizing  event.  The CWP members had picket sign handles, bats, and some weapons on-hand stored in car trunks. Ku Klux Klansmen and Neo-Nazis arrived with an arsenal of weapon and opened fire on the CWP protestors and community by-standers. They killed five CWP members and injured ten others.  As the event received national and even international attention, Greensboro’s city leadership dismissed the incident as the fault of “extremists” on both side. It is reasonable to assume black and white GC students, faculty and staff were well aware of the event and came to different conclusions about it. Two subsequent criminal trials with all-white juries acquitted the shooters. The then victims also sued the City of Greensboro for negligence and won a monetary settlement in 1984. To learn more about the Greensboro Massacre,  read “The Greensboro Massacre Topical Essay” at the “Civil Rights Greensboro” collection hosted by UNCG Library. It includes links to primary documents and oral history interviews about the event.
  • In 1983 JC Price School , a formerly all-black school in the heart of the Warnersville community, closed after being desegregated in 1971. GC began leasing the facility from the city for use as a practice facility in 1998. By the early 2000s, as the College’s plans for a “sportsplex” became clear, community opposition in Warnersville mounted.