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Allen Butler Ballard Jr.
Kenyon Class of 1952
Major: Political Science
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Allen Ballard 1948

Allen Ballard Today

Pre-Kenyon Life
Allen Butler Ballard Jr. was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 1, 1930. The oldest of three children, Ballard grew up in a close-nit black community in central Philadelphia. His father, Robert sr., who had migrated from rural South Carolina, was a graduate of Virginia Union and worked as police officer. His mother, Olive, a descendent from a well-educated and long established Philadelphia family, was a nurse. His parents divorced when he was young, and Ballard lived with his mother, but remained in close contact with his father.

Ballard attended Central High School in Philadelphia where he was very active on the Football and Cross-Country teams. Central High school's principal, a proponent of liberal arts education, knew Kenyon's president Gordon Keith Chalmers. Chalmers sent an admissions recruiter to Central High in search of a minority students who would be a good match for Kenyon. They found Allen Ballard.

In 1948, Kenyon President Gordon Keith Chalmers announced during an executive Committee meeting that:

"This year two really outstanding young Negro men have applied for admission in 1948, one of them from Central High School in Philadelphia, and the other from Steubenville. Both are athletes and have unusually promising social and personal records as well as high academic records; both have applied for and received scholarships."

After decades without black student enrollment, Kenyon College would matriculate these two black students, Allen B. Ballard, Jr. and Stanley L. Jackson, in 1949.

Early Kenyon Life

In his book, The Education of Black Folk, Ballard writes emphatically on his experience at Kenyon. According to Ballard he, along with Stanley Jackson: "...had the misfortune to become the first of our race to enter Kenyon College. In retrospect, it is clear that -with some exceptions- our existence on that campus was defined not by us but by the constant necessity to be everything that negated the white man's concept of niggers. We were, in fact, forced to suppress our natural inner selves so as to conform to the mores of a campus dominated by upper-middle-class Americans. For eighteen hours a day, our manners, speech, style of walking were on trial before white America. Classes, particularly in the freshman and sophomore years, although sometimes intellectually rewarding, seemed frequently to us tests to prove to both teachers and students that Jefferson's views on the Black mentality were incorrect."
Old Kenyon Fire of 1949
One of Ballard's most significant memories of Kenyon is the "Old Kenyon" fire of 1949, his freshman year.
Ballard continues:

"We were not totally ignored by our white classmates. The liberal conscience could not tolerate that, and so we were duly elected to a variety of campus posts, from athletic captaincies to presidencies of various student bodies and membership in diverse honorary organizations. As we traveled on athletic trips and in search of female companionship around the small colleges of Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio, we observed that most small white colleges had one or two Black students who were suffering bravely to prove the unprovable. The lone girl at one Ohio college broke into tears describing the desolate existence she led in that narrowly sectarian private institution in a town where no Black lived. It became evident that large colleges, with relatively numerous Black students and Black fraternal and sororal organizations, provided the social and psychological supports necessary to cope with hostile and indifferent institutions."
Organizations/Fraternities and Sports
Social life revolved around the fraternities, from which we Blacks were automatically excluded. The cumulative toll, both psychically and academically, was heavy. Of eight students in the four years, five left for the military or large campuses close to urban centers. The only surcease from this eight semester social ordeal for the three of us who remained came when the Black community in a nearby town provided us with Black warmth, food, and emotional support. We looked forward eagerly to weekends away from that alien campus. 1951 Kenyon Lacrosse Team

Ballard (center above) and the Lacrosse team in 1951
Kenyon Student Council 1951

Ballard shown above during his senior year with the Student Council. Ballard was President.
Though he felt socially isolated, both Ballard and Jackson would become very active and involve in campus life at Kenyon. While neither were allowed to join fraternities because of their race, they still participated in several other campus organizations and sports. Ballard was a member of the varsity football and lacrosse teams, as well as the president of the student council.

Ballard found refuge and social engagement in the black community of Mt. Vernon. In addition, he spent many weekends at Oberlin, where one of his cousins was a student, or at Ohio State University in Columbus, where he and Jackson would attend parties hosted by historically black fraternities.

Kenyon Football Team 1951

Ballard #48 and Jackson #26, were the first black students to attend Kenyon College. Both played on the varsity football team.

Race Related Incidents
In terms of race relations, it is important to place things within a historical context. Segregation was still the law of the land in this time prior to the Civil Rights Movement. Like others black students, Ballard recalls very few overtly racist incidents during his time at Kenyon, although there were a few isolated instances. He claims to have experienced more racism while traveling to sporting events than on campus. For example, Ballard and other black students were not allowed to stay in the same hotels as their white teammates.

The biggest disappointment relating to race was not being allowed to pledge a fraternity. This was particularly painful as a football player, while he watched his white teammates pledge. In the 1950s, fraternities were the cornerstone of Kenyon social life. In the mid fifties, nearly 80% of Kenyon students belonged to a fraternity.

In retrospect, Ballard feels wonderful about the education that he received at Kenyon, but still feels somewhat bitter about the social isolation that he felt. Still, over the years he has grown to treasure the education and the friends that he did make.
Allen Ballard Today In coming to Kenyon, Ballard expected to receive a fine education, which he feels he did. After Kenyon Ballard went on to have a very distinguished and productive career. Ballard won a Fulbright Fellowship and went on to study at the University of Bordeaux in France. While in France, he served in the army, stationed in Paris. Returning to the United States, he then went to Harvard University where he studied in its Soviet Union Regional Studies program and earned his doctorate in government in 1961. From Harvard, Ballard went on to teach at Boston University, Cornell and Dartmouth before settling at CCNY, City College of New York.
At CCNY, Ballard became assistant dean of Liberal Arts where he developed the first open admissions program for minority students in the country.

Article on Allen Ballard

Article from a NY Newspaper

Where I'm Bound by Allen Ballard

Read Review of the novel

Ballard at a Kenyon Reunion

Ballard has returned to Kenyon for class reunions over the years and was particularly pleased to see black students admitted to the fraternities. In 2000, Ballard completed his novel Where I'm Bound, a story of black soldiers in the Civil War.

Other Links about Allen Ballard

Black Students @ Kenyon in the 1950s



Kenyon in the 1950s