Race Relations Timeline
Quakers establish New Garden Boarding School and keep it open through the Civil War.
The Emancipation Proclamation frees slaves in states of the Confederate States of America.
The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, abolishing slavery.
The 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, granting the right to vote to any male regardless of race color, or previous condition of servitude.
New Garden Boarding School opens as Guilford College in the fall of 1888.
A Guilfordian article hails a minstrel show, a performance that uses white or black people in “blackface” to mock and stereotype black people, at Guilford College as a success: “Niggers were in here in full force” (The Guilfordian, April 25).
The Clyde Milner administration at Guilford begins: “If the basic Quaker principles are equality, simplicity, community, pacifism, and caution, except for pacifism all of these were violated during the Milner era. Caution was turned on its head and used to avoid the admission of black students which might bring community disapproval.” (The Southern Friend, 2001)
An article in the 1931 The Quaker yearbook lampoons cafeteria workers for their weight gain from Guilford food: ”When they came here not one of these darkies were more than normal weight.”
First Japanese-American students accepted to Guilford College. The students were from the West coast.
1945-1947: Japanese students in The Quaker, the Guilford college yearbook. The students are depicted in class photos, club/sports pictures, and candid shots.
A meeting of the Inter-Racial Club is held at the Guilford campus. The club included representatives from North Carolina A&T State University, Bennett College, Woman’s College (now UNCG), Greensboro College, and Guilford College. (The Guilfordian)
The first Sunday Afternoon Tea is held at Guilford College. Participants included members of the Inter-Racial club and other students from surrounding colleges. (The Guilfordian, October 30, 1948).
Guilford President Clyde Milner receives a letter requesting the College consider enrolling three black students. Faculty voted 17-13 that it was “not expedient to enroll Negro students at this time.” (Faculty Meeting Minutes, March 12, 1951)
Five Guilford faculty members are appointed to a committee to study the problem of race relations. (Faculty Meeting Minutes, February 11, 1952) Their report is read and accepted May 31, 1952. The committee will continue to study the situation and carry on as the occasion arises. (Faculty Meeting Minutes, May 31, 1952)
Faculty member James Floyd “Pete” Moore asks whether faculty will go on record as being willing to admit a black Dudley High School honor graduate. President Milner said he would convey to the Board of Trustees the desire for the faculty to accept teach colored students (Faculty Meeting Minutes, September 12, 1953)
Students debate integration; Friend Jim Lomax says, “racial discrimination is a violation of His [Jesus'] law.” The majority of students favored “flinging wide the gates” of Guilford College to Blacks (Greensboro Daily News).
Guilford College faculty member Gordon Lovejoy undertakes a study concerning integration of 94 campuses around the country (including six in N.C.) and finds that no problems arose. (Faculty Meeting Minutes, October 11, 1954)
The Guilford faculty discusses the responsibility it has concerning whether members are in unity about the integration issue. A questionnaire is created to ask all faculty members to express their opinions. (Faculty Meeting Minutes, October 18, 1954)
A new student from Korea, Suckyun Suh, joins the College (The Guilfordian, October 25). Guilford promotes itself as a “home college for white men,” claiming that, “The city’s colleges for women are excellent. Its college facilities for Negro men are outstanding. Greensboro’s major need is a home for white men… Guilford College fills this need effectively, efficiently, and economically” (Guilford College bulletin Vol. 47, 1954).
In June, 1955, Eleanor Roosevelt speaks at the New Garden meeting house on Guilford’s campus, across from New Garden Cemetery. As she spoke, an explosion was set off beside the Revolutionary Oak in New Garden Cemetary, permanently damaging the tree. The culprits were believed to object to her political ideas.
“Negro orchestra, The Downbeats, perform at Valentine Dance” (The Guilfordian, February 10).
During World Brotherhood week, an interracial council of students from the five Greensboro colleges meet at NC A&T (February 10). Guilford faculty report on race relations in the College and add their recommendations:
“This committee believes that no student should be denied admission to a Christian college because of race, nationality, religion or political thinking. At the same time – considering Guilford College’s cultural, religious and political thinking – this committee wishes to point out that this statement represents the ultimate goal, which is not easily attainable. It is our intention to state herein, after the ideal as expressed above, the real situation as it exists today, and to suggest steps which we may wisely take in our approach to this ultimate goal. The committee definitely believes that in discusssions of the duties of the Christian college, the emphasis should be placed on those duties as they relate to all groups, and not merely as they relate to the Negro. We feel that is is a mistake to consider any dramatic or sensational coup, which might well produce undesirable results. We believe that the college should join other groups in natural as contrasted with artificial or manufactured situations. For example, the committee deems it generally inadvisable at this time to arrange for or engage in competitive contests with teams of other races. We believe it would be detrimental, however, to force upon the constituency of our sponsoring body and the community in which we are situated any inter-group or interracial policies for which they do not seem prepared.”
A tentative list for a collection of paperbacks for the sociology department collection of books on race relations appears in the minutes of the faculty meeting held September 12, 1958 (Faculty Meeting Minutes, September 12, 1958)
The faculty committee to study race relations recommends that the College president, the chairman of the board of trustees, and the N.C. Yearly Meeting Relations committee conduct meetings concerning the admission of Negroes to the College. (Faculty Meeting Minutes, May 11, 1959)
The Guilford 1959 Talent Show features a student comedian in black face. (The Quaker)
A student interviews an A&T student about sit-ins (The Guilfordian, May 10).
- Clyde Milner and James Floyd “Pete” Moore attend the FWCC (Friends World Comm. for Consultation) meeting in Kenya. Milner offers Guilford College as the location of the 4th World Conference of Friends, to be held in 1967. (The Guilfordian, May 11, 1961)
- Board of Trustees member Robert Frazier reports two Negroes had applied to the Greensboro division of Guilford College for admission and were not accepted. (Bd. of Trustees Meeting Minutes, October 13, 1961)
- The Guilford College Board of Trustees adopts an integration policy for the admittance of African American students after much debate. (Bd. of Trustees Meeting Minutes, October 13, 1961)
- Guilford President Clyde Milner announces a Negro woman is attending a non-credit course, part of the College’s continuing adult education series, at the College’s Greensboro Division. (Greensboro Daily News, 10/15/61)
- Kenyan educator Benjamin Wegasa visits Guilford’s campus and focuses on education as the determining factor in his nation’s success. He recognized the need to increase education of women. (The Guilfordian)
- Melrose Alpha Nimmo ’66, an American citizen, was admitted to the graduate program in religion in spring of 1962. (Stoesen, MLK Jr. Day 1995 speech, FHC vertical file).
- In the spring semester of 1962, Guilford College integrates the main campus by admitting two Kenyan Quakers for fall, 1962: Washington Rakama (class of 1964) and Ayub Watakila (class of 1965, deceased) (Abigail Sebastian interview and 2010 Alumni Directory).
- In the fall of 1962, Guilford enrolls the first African American traditional student, James McCorkle. (The Guilfordian)
Nine Guilford students participate in a sit-in at the S&W Cafeteria in downtown Greensboro on May 15, 1963. Four white Guilford students, including Beth Taylor, were arrested on charges of trespassing on May 15, 1963. (Huldah (Beth) Taylor Collection, FHC)
See drawings of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, Freedom Summer volunteers murdered in Neshoba County, Mississippi, in the Hege Library conference room. (From the the Art Gallery collection)
- A student writer reports on his experiences at a Ku Klux Klan rally (The Guilfordian, April 25).
- Guilford College Board of Trustees approval was given for the president of the College to sign certificates of compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as required to secure federal funds from the National Defense Student Loan program, National Science Foundation, Atomic Energy Commission and Federal Surplus property. (Board of Trustees Meeting Minutes, August 26, 1965)
- The first African American to receive a Guilford College degree, Melrose Alpha Nimmo, graduates in the summer of 1965 with a Master’s degree in religion. (Scanned photo in College Archives)
James McCorkle, Guilford’s first traditional African American student admitted in 1962 receives his diploma in May, 1966.
- Guilford Colleges hires James C. McMillian, its first African American instructor.
- The Fourth World Congress of Friends is held at Guilford College July 24-Aug. 3, 1967.
- A Barber Shop Forum is hosted by Guilford College on the issue of racial discrimination against potential “Negro” customers at the Imperial Barber Shop. (The Guilfordian, October 27, 1967)
- Guilford students picket the local, racially segregated Imperial Barber Shop. Students were not supported by College administration. (The Guilfordian, 2/23/68)
- The City of Greensboro imposes a curfew following the assassination of MLK Jr. The National Guard set up a blockade on Friendly Road in front of the College to, “prevent unauthorized vehicles from entering Greensboro.” (The Guilfordian, 4/18/68)
- A memorial service is held for MLK, Jr. at New Garden Friends Meeting. (The Guilfordian, 4/18/68)
- Georgia legislator and civil rights activist Julian Bond speaks on campus as part of the College Art Series. Civil Rights Activist James Farmer is also scheduled to speak in the series. (The Guilfordian, 10/11/68)
- Brothers and Sisters in Blackness (BASIB) forms at the College and challenges stereotypes and assumptions about black students and the role of African Americans in society and history. (The Guilfordian, 10/18/68)
- BASIB details concerns: need for courses in black history, literature and African art; full-time black professors and counselors, more financial aid for all students, and more (The Guilfordian, March 7).
- James Farmer, Asst. Sec. of HEW and a founding member of CORE, speaks at Guilford (The Guilfordian, March 14).
- African-American students hold a demonstration regarding grooming practices for athletes. While the school’s policy mandated short hair on athletes, black athletes argued that afro hairstyles were a critical part of black identity. President Hobbs changes the hair policy for athletes. (The Guilfordian, October 10).
- On March 16, 1970, Guilford’s black students staged a quiet, orderly sit-in in the lobby of New Garden Hall. Black students discussed several grievances with administrators between March 13 and March 16. They requested a Black Studies center, four Black professors, equal access to College cars, and clarification of charges against a Black student’s involvement in an alleged offense. The administration responded by announcing that campus vehicles would be made available to Black organizations, that they would double their efforts to recruit Black faculty, that they would review the charges against the student, and that they would provide space in Cox Hall for BASIB (Guilford College Bulletin, Alumni Issue, Spring, 1970).
- Five members of the College’s men’s basketball team took a six week goodwill tour of West Africa at the invitation of the NAIA, and sponsored by the U.S. State Department. Significant as the first integrated basketball team in Guilford College’s history, the trip was also significant in that these five players “tried out for upcoming Olympics, Pan-American, and World University Games.” (Guilford College Bulletin, July 1970)
Stokely Carmichael visits Guilford and speaks on contemporary issues and the civil rights movement as part of BASIB Journey into Blackness V. (FHC vertical files)
Guilford College has celebrated MLK, Jr. on his birthday, January 15, with programming at least since 1985. (FHC vertical files)
Guilford Administrative Council approves Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a holiday for Guilford College, beginning January, 1995. (Administrative Council Meeting Minutes, February 22, 1994)
First year that Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is an official Guilford College holiday.