These stories tell of Baylor University's 1963 decision to racially integrate its student body..
Baylor Votes to Integrate
November 2, 1963
The Baylor University Board of Trustees Friday [Nov. 1] voted to integrate the school, the world's largest Baptist institution of higher learning.
It approved the majority report of a committee named a year ago which said that "neither race or color be a factor to be considered in the admission of qualified students to Baylor University."
The university, which has an enrollment of approximately 7,000 students on its campuses at Waco, Dallas and Houston, will put the new policy into effect under the direction of President Abner V. McCall.
Hilton E. Howell, chairman of the board, issued this statement:
"Consideration of the motion began with prayer for divine guidance. The action of the Baylor University Board of Trustees was taken after full and free discussion. While the final vote of the board adopting the new policy was not unanimous, the decision was reached by amicable discussion and democratic procedure."
President McCall said in a written statement:
"University officials will devise a procedure to put the new policy into effect, and anticipate complete cooperation of the students and faculty. I feel confident that this will be done with little or no disruption of the educational program of the university."
This is the text of the report of the committee, headed by Earl C. Hankamer of Houston:
"Whereas, Baylor University as a private school has the right to select its students, and may exercise that right of selection to serve best the purposes and policies of the university and the denomination which owns it; and
Whereas, Baylor University has no official written policy either in its charter or by-laws concerning race or color as criteria for admission of students; therefore
Be it resolved that neither race nor color be a factor to be considered in the admission of qualified students to Baylor University. The Board of Trustees hereby directs the president of the university to implement this policy by practical means designed to cause minimum disruption of the educational program of the university."
The trustees agreed that only the offical statements of the chairman and of the president be made public, and that the numerical result of the vote taking the historic step not be announced.
About three weeks later, on the same day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Baylor formally announced it would integrate its athletic teams
BU Athletics to Integrate
November 24, 1963
Baylor University's athletic council Saturday [Nov. 23] announced integration of all athletic teams, effective with the opening of the spring semester, Jan. 30, 1964. The school's announcement was termed a "clarification of policy" by school president Dr. Abner V. McCall, who is also president of the athletic council and Baylor faculty athletic representative to the Southwest Conference.
McCall said the decision on athletic integration was actually embodied in the Nov. 1 announcement of university desegregation by the Baylor Board of Trustees.
"I told Mr. Bridgers (Baylor head football coach and athletic director John Bridgers) at the time that's what it meant," McCall said Saturday, "but it hadn't been spelled out, and we were having a lot of inquiries. This announcement is primarily to put a stop to the inquiries."
The council statement: "The Baylor athletic council has voted unanimously to permit all qualified Baylor students to compete on any Baylor athletic team participating in intercollegiate athletics."
Attending the meeting were council members McCall, Dr. Monroe Carroll, Dr. Emerson O. Henke, Dr. J.W. Dixon and Dr. James W. Parsons Jr., plus Bridgers and assistant athletic director Bill Henderson.
"It's the policy of the university to take in students regardless of race or color," McCall elaborated on the council statement. "We're not telling the coaches whom to put on their teams. We're saying everybody that's eligible can take part in athletics, as they can in any university activity, as long as they remain eligible."
McCall said there are no Negro students now enrolled at Baylor, other than in the school's hospital training program in San Antonio, a graduate division.
Bridgers said the athletic department "right now has no specific plans" for recruiting Negroes. "To tell the truth, we just haven't had time to think about it," he added. Bridgers' football team still has games remaining with Rice and Southern Methodist, the latter contest originally scheduled yesterday but postponed until Dec. 7 (see separate story) because of the death of President Kennedy.
"We don't know of any Negro athletes right now that we're interested in," Bridgers continued, "but there may be some we will want to look at and investigate." As for long-range future plans, Bridgers said he and his staff will "recruit anyone who we think will fit in and meet our standards, Negro and white."
Asked if he thought the addition of Negroes would benefit Baylor or any previously all-white school in athletics, Bridgers replied: "I think the Southwest Conference has improved anyway since I've been here, and I think it will continue to improve. Of course, there are some tremendous Negro athletes all over the country."
Bridgers said he personally agrees with the action of the trustees and the athletic council. "I feel it's something that should be, from a standpoint of being right."
Bridgers' Baylor football team ended up being the first Southwest Conference squad to field a black player in a game. That player, halfback John Westbrook, carried the ball twice in Baylor's victory over Syracuse on Sept. 10, 1966. Westbrook beat SMU's Jerry Levias by one week to become the Southwest Conference's first black player.
Enrollment of black students was a reality within two months after Baylor's integration announcement.
Baylor Accepts Five Negroes For Enrollment
January 28, 1964
Baylor University has accepted five Negro students for enrollment in the Evening Division, Baylor officials said today. Four of the applicants are Waco teachers and one is a sergeant from James Connally Air Force Base.
More enrollment applications from Negro students may be processed before mid-term registration is completed Wednesday [Jan. 29].
Baylor officials said it is difficult to say exactly how many applications have come in from Negro students because all are processed in the same manner. They said they did not separate them as to race and all applications are in the same stack of papers.
University officials said one Negro student, an out-of-state applicant, had been denied admission to Baylor graduate school because his undergraduate record did not meet the university requirements.
Baylor trustees voted last fall to integrate classes at the Baptist university.