Letters from alums about blacks at Princeton
Jack Bunzel 46s article on fighting racist admissions policy in the 1940s (PAW 3/24/2004) is yet another informative addition to the ongoing story of Princetons 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 offices 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.
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
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