March 8, 2019
This letter is decades overdue. I first wrote it in the fall of 1953 but was scared to send it in. My freshman year, pledged to Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, seen as a “Yankee” from New York, I was determined to make friends.
Suddenly, The Reveille started publishing vile articles and letters berating and attacking the presence of LSU’s first African-American undergraduate student, Alexander P. Turead. Familiar with the Jim Crow South from visits to my grandparents in New Orleans, I was stunned at the vitriol and hate thrown at Turead in what I imagined would be an enlightened or at least neutral school newspaper. Below is approximately what I wrote 66 years ago.
Happily for the last few decades, LSU is integrated and the Reveille is an enlightened and pathbreaking University newspaper.
All best greetings,
Clare Coss, Class of '57
The beautiful green spacious LSU campus, proud of its ancient Indian Mounds, is being defiled by hateful acts and ugly words. As an entering freshman from North of the Mason-Dixon line, I want to extend a plea to open your hearts and your minds to A. P. Turead’s right to have an education in his own state’s University.
His presence does not have to be seen as a threat to the student body and faculty. Separation of the races is not natural — and is maintained only by force and violence.
May I offer two experiences with segregation in the North. In 1946, my 7th grade year at Evergreen Elementary, the school in the Negro neighborhood of Plainfield, NJ burned down. Its students were bused to different schools in town. About 20 Negro girls and boys joined our white class for 7th and 8th grade. We became friends at school in classes, sports and music but did not socialize after the 3 o’clock bell. It was strange to know they would bus back to their community, while we walked home. Although none of us questioned this routine, we did learn that we are basically the same – and color is only skin deep.
For high school, I attended a Quaker boarding school on Long Island for four years. In 1951, my junior year, we had an assembly discussion with the administration on whether to admit a Negro student. My contribution was to argue that we admit two – so he or she wouldn’t be the only one. We found out a few weeks later the school decided not to integrate. Some of us felt it was our loss – but no one had really spoken strongly to integrate beyond a student from Iran, and one from Venezuela. [I learned years later the student applicant was Gail Buckley, daughter of Lena Lorne.]
Rather than fan the flames of hate, please take a principled position in your newspaper and give consideration to A.P. Turead. Stop joining the cruelties, harassments, humiliations, insults and threats. LSU’s Graduate school integrated two years ago. The sky hasn’t fallen.