Race, Heroism, and Moral Failure: Two Christian Colleges in Abilene, Texas
When: June 7, 2023, 1:00 pm - Wednesday
Where: Lamb & Scroll
During the 1946-47 academic year, long before Carl Spain prophetically demanded that Abilene Christian College integrate, a group of students—the heroes of this story—called for ACC to admit African American students. The administration refused. Down the road from ACC, another Christian College—Hardin-Simmons—did not have eyes to see or ears to hear, much less the will to celebrate, the fact that its founder, the Rev. James B. Simmons, had been a radical abolitionist. Both these stories are based on primary sources only recently discovered.
Stephen V. Crowder, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, N.M., “Early Student Voices for Integration at Abilene Christian College”
The first student voices for integration at Abilene Christian College appeared as “Letters to the Editor” in the school newspaper, The Optimist, during school year 1946-1947. In this presentation, Crowder will explore who these students were and what motivated them to speak out nearly twenty years before integration became a reality at ACC. He will also examine national trends regarding integration following WWII, and one man’s personal learning journey.
Travis Frampton, Schreiner University; and Kelvin J. Kelley, Hardin-Simmons University, “A Story Buried for Far too Long: The Abolitionist Roots of Hardin-Simmons University”
In 1857, a fugitive slave trial transformed the 30-year-old minister of First Baptist Church in Indianapolis into a radical abolitionist who responded in a sermon, ”The American Slave System Tried by the Golden Rule,” later published under the title, The Cause and Cure of the Rebellion. That man, the Rev. James B. Simmons, traveled to the frontier village of Abilene, Texas where he established the school that grew into Hardin-Simmons University, a school that over the years essentially forgot about its abolitionist roots.
Richard Hughes, Lipscomb University, Convener
- Stephen V. Crowder, Sandia National Laboratories, “Early Student Voices for Integration at Abilene Christian College”
- Travis Frampton and Kelvin J. Kelley, Schreiner University; Hardin-Simmons University, “A Story Buried for Far too Long: The Abolitionist Roots of Hardin-Simmons University”