Second Baptist Church Congregation, 1963.
Second Baptist Church Congregation, 1950-1967.
Top: Judy Lyles and her husband James W.
Lyles taking marriage vows before Rev. T.J. Jackson at the
Second Missionary Baptist Church in Mattoon, Illinois. Bottom:
(left to right) Darlene Clark, Judy Lyles, James W. Lyles,
Thomas Cooper, Kathy Smith and Greg Curry, 1959.
Judith Williams being walked down the aisle
by her father, Mr. James Roy Williams, 1959.
Senior Choir of the Second Baptist Church.
A typical program for services at Second
Baptist Missionary Church, Mattoon, Illinois, 1984.
One of the incidents Whitlow cited was a protest
organized by black students in the spring of 1968. The protest was
sparked by black students' perception that the university administration
was not doing anything to address their concerns. Ernest Morris,
a representative of the black students presented a list of six grievances
to President Quincy Doudna. The list included the following:
"1. Opening of all approved university housing
to black students or the removal of the same from the approved housing
2. The opening of all fraternities and sororities
to black students or removal from the university campus of those
who refuse to comply.
3. Increased financial aid for black students.
4. Recruitment of more black students.
5. Recruitment of more black staff members by advertising
vacancies at Negro colleges and universities.
6. Negro history and cultural courses in the curriculum."
In response, the position of the university's president
was that "the problems they [students] have listed don't lend
themselves to easy solutions." (68) The president also noted
the difficulty of finding black applicants because they are in demand
everywhere. The university authorities established a committee to
address the demands. By May 1969 a new course on African American
history and culture was being developed, Ernest Morris was hired
as admissions counselor effective fall 1969. And a commitment to
increasing the number of black students was also restated But as
far as black students were concerned the anticipated changes did
not proceed fast and far enough.
In the spring of 1970 a group of 50-60 black students
representing the Afro-American Association once again staged another
protest. This time, the students' demands included the establishment
of a "Black cultural-social center, a Black assistant dean
of students, a Black advisor and more courses with Black orientation."
(69) President Doudna agreed to meet the demands of the students.
He told the students that, "if he didn't meet the demands by
the fall of 1970 he 'would leave and let someone else try it'."
As expected the university authorities later in the year took concrete
steps to address the students' concerns. In the fall of 1970 the
Afro-American Studies Program was established under the directorship
of Dr. Arlen Fowler who was a professor in the History Department.
Dr. Fowler was a logical choice as the first director because along
with others, he was a strong advocated for the program. A year later,
Dr. Bill Ridgeway of the Zoology Department took over from Dr. Fowler
as the director. Since then other individuals who have headed the
program include Dr. Willa Mae Hemmons, Johnetta Jones, Dr. William
Covlin and Dr. 'Niyi Coker. Whitlow notes that with the establishment
of the program in 1970, "Eastern became the first university
in Illinois to offer a baccalaureate major and minor in Afro-American
Studies." (70) To date the program has continued to fulfill
its mission of fostering a strong interdisciplinary curriculum which
educates Eastern students about African American history and culture.
Another demand which was also met in the fall of 1970 was the establishment
of the Afro-American Cultural Center. The center which is located
at 1525 Seventh Street remains a vital part of black and minority
students' life on campus.
The 1970's also witnessed two racial incidents
which threatened peace on Eastern's campus. The first occurred when
the Student Senate recommended to the president to rename the University
Union Building in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1970.
After months of delay the proposal was voted on by the Faculty Senate
recommending to the Board of Governors to approve the new name for
the Union. The Board in a unanimous vote approved it. But "the
first two steel signs placed outside the Union Building bearing
Dr. King's name were stolen, and the third, mounted to small concrete
pillars to prevent theft, was smeared with yellow paint and misshapen[ed],
apparently by some large instrument." (71) The second incident
had to do with the election of homecoming queen in October, 1973.
As Whitlow explained: