Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


The Graduates

Class of 1971: Wilson Bradshaw

? President of Minneapolis State University

? Earned BS and MS degrees in psychology

? Former vice president of Student Government

? Former member of Black Student Union

Wilson Bradshaw attended FAU during the most intense period of racial tensions in United States history. When he arrived as a transfer student from PBCC in 1969, the country had just witnessed the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement was at its peak. With unending conflict around them, college students were, like the rest of the nation, begging to be heard – they felt a responsibility to take a stance.

“They were activist times… the biggest issue on college campuses was the Vietnam War, and the black power movement was still very large,” Bradshaw says.

In 1970, only a year after Martin Luther King’s death, and with a country united in rebellion, four students were shot dead by national guardsmen at Kent State. Bradshaw’s response would make him a part of the largest national student strike in US history.

He was one of nearly 100 black students that gathered around the campus in protest of the killings. “We blocked the Glades Road entrance,” Bradshaw says. “We wrote strike in red paint on some of the walls.

The campus had to close for about two days as I recall.” Nationwide more than 4 million students protested, closing a total of 900 colleges and universities.

Bradshaw’s activist leanings would soon lead him to the BSU where he became focused on FAU’s lack of black faculty members. “I remember writing a letter to the administration asking them to do a better job recruiting black faculty,” Bradshaw says. “I never got a response, but I know that the mix of faculty members you have now comes from the hard work we did in the ’70s.”

Bradshaw says that while racial tensions were exploding nationally, and FAU’s black students were unhappy about being underrepresented in the faculty, the atmosphere on campus was “as calm as it could be for black students.”

On a personal level, being a black college student was easy for Bradshaw. “Nobody called you names. You never felt like you were being looked at differently,” Bradshaw says. “It was an era of peace and love. It was a different time. I may have been looked at, but I looked at people too.”

Asked to reflect on his memories of racism on campus Bradshaw said, “To be sure, there was racism then, just as there is today, but certainly not in the militant sense of the word.”

Class of 1981: Clarence Anthony

? Mayor of South Bay, FL

? Earned BS in criminal justice and MS degree in public administration

? Former president of Black Student Union

? Former president of Black Alumni Association

Clarence Anthony’s first year at FAU was 1979, and though national racial relations had improved from the early ’70s, the playing field was still not entirely level for African-American college students.

For Anthony it was hard not to notice how few black students there were on campus. FAU statistics show that black enrollment in 1971 represented under 5 percent of the student body.

“I saw very little diversity, and much of the diversity there was did not come from the US,” Anthony says. “They were from other countries, mostly the Caribbean and Europe.”

Black and white interaction on campus was good according to Anthony, but this didn’t stop broader social and racial tensions from causing the occasional uproar. The celebration of Martin Luther King’s birthday was one such instance. In 1979, King’s birthday was not officially recognized by Florida (it wouldn’t be until 1986, when federal law required its observance), and FAU did not grant students a day off. In response, Anthony and the BSU protested.

“The BSU focused on the fact that the state didn’t celebrate Martin Luther King Day, and we wanted the university to celebrate that birthday,” he says. “We boycotted classes on that day because we thought it was so important.”

Anthony turned to the activities of the BSU to help promote black culture on campus, and to make sure that blacks “had a place to fit in.”

“The need for a BSU was very important, it was our way of networking, of supporting each other and maintaining some sense of who we were: African-American students on a predominantly white campus,” he says.

Anthony says his personal experience with racial discrimination on campus was nominal. Instead, what was most difficult being a part of what Anthony calls “one percent of the student population” was the fact that he and other students of color stood out.

“Being the only black American student you always have to be ready. The people know when you’re not there, the teacher knows if you’re absent. You’re under a magnifying glass.”In hindsight Anthony realizes that the source of his discomfort was twofold. “A lot of the pressure I felt was self-inflicted, but also, for some of the students and teachers, this was their first interaction with someone that was black, so they didn’t know exactly how to handle it either.”

Class of 1991: Delsa Bush

? Police chief of West Palm Beach, FL

? Earned BS in criminal justice

? Current Ph.D. candidate at Lynne University

? First woman and African American police chief of West Palm Beach

In stark contrast to Bradshaw and Anthony, Delsa Bush attended FAU in the ’90s, long after the civil rights movement had faded. Instead of separation, the ’90s were characterized by integration and acceptance; blacks were no longer treated as second-class citizens, and to even imagine them as such was considered morally and politically unacceptable.

Bush says her experience at FAU was pleasant and that she had little time to consider racial issues. Because she was so consumed in her studies, she didn’t note any racism directed towards her or other black students.

She did, however, state that the campus was, in her opinion, lacking a diverse student body. “To be honest, I didn’t think FAU was as diverse as it could be with minority students,” Bush says. “There weren’t a lot of African-American students. The majority of students that I interacted with were of other races than my own.”

In 1991, blacks made up only 6 percent of the student body. As of 2006, they account for 16 percent of total students. Bush considered the faculty far more diverse. “I did have great professors. The staff was very diverse…I was pleased with that.”

Her idea of what could have made the university more diverse is something that has, since her departure, actually come to fruition. “I think the campus could have benefited from having traditionally black fraternities and sororities. I didn’t see any of that when I was there.”

Bush will be at FAU on Feb. 20 as a featured speaker for SG’s Keys To Success Seminar.

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