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Letters from alums about blacks at Princeton

April 27, 2004

Jack Bunzel ’46’s article on fighting racist admissions policy in the 1940s (PAW 3/24/2004) is yet another informative addition to the ongoing story of Princeton’s progress toward more equal opportunity and greater diversity on campus — a history of which “blacks at Princeton” is only a part.

Other details about how things changed — and how they remained the same — were reported in a symposium held during Reunions 2003. The panel for that session included Robert Rivers ’53, a former University trustee, who I believe was the first (but for many years, almost the only) nonwhite “townie” to be admitted. Others on the symposium panel were Jessica Lautin ’03, whose then just-completed senior thesis described town-gown relations with blacks. Other panelists were Art Savage, Ev Pinneo, and Don Maggin, all of the Class of 1948. They described how World War II on-campus military officer training forced cracks in the admission office’s “no Negroes-few Jews” policies, the integration at the Blairstown summer camp, and efforts since the 1940s, gradually more successful, to solicit admission applications by nonwhites.

Charlton R. Price ’48
Kansas City, Mo.

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March 23, 2004

Jack Bunzel's article (Perspective, March 24, 2004) brings back personal memories of the letter- writing campaign of the Liberal Union designed to elicit applications to Princeton from black high school students.

I was a small part of that campaign. I seem to recall the fall of 1950 getting my instructions in a carrel in Firestone from a senior. On a later occasion we reviewed some of the replies from high school principals; most said they knew Princeton was inhospitable to blacks, so why bother?

None of my letters produced positive results. If three black students enrolled in 1949, maybe one was a member of my club, Prospect. He was a "townie." He was the only black I ever met at Princeton, except for Jim, our remarkable chef at Prospect.

Speaking of the Liberal Union, does anyone remember an offshoot group, the Peoples Anti-Fascist Peace and Freedom League (title?), which participated in a debate at Whig-Clio, c. 1949?

Harvey Glickman '52
Professor Emeritus
Dept. of Political Science
Haverford College
Haverford, Pa.

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