Black History @ Kenyon College

Black Students at Kenyon in the 1950s

Lowry with Basketball teammates in 1956

Lowry with Basketball teammates in 1956

There are lots of blacker colleges blacks can go to, and better colleges for better blacks. That's the conventional wisdom anyway: a black who can succeed at Kenyon has what it takes to succeed at Amherst or Harvard. So why come here, playing Jackie Robinson, if you can go to a cheaper place that's more congenial or get a free ride at someplace more prestigious?

-P.F. Kluge in Alma Mater

During a meeting on November 26, 1946, the Kenyon Faculty, "moved and unanimously voted that the Faculties believed that the College should admit Negro students on a equality with white students and that this opinion should be conveyed to the Academic Committee of the Board of Trustees by the Faculty representatives to that Committee." In 1948, Kenyon President Gordon Keith Chalmers announced during an executive Committee meeting that:

This year two really outstanding young Negro men [who] 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 (Greenslade 114).
After decades without black student enrollment, Kenyon College would matriculate these two black students, Allen B. Ballard, Jr. and Stanley L. Jackson, in 1949. Both Jackson and Ballard would become members of the Kenyon football team that fall. In the remainder of the decade, Kenyon would later go on to graduate a total of eight black students between the years of 1952 and 1958. Notably, each of these men were not only intense scholars, but talented athletes as well.

Student Council 1951

Allen Ballard K52 with Student Council 1951

Kenyon's Black Graduates During the 1950's  

Allen Ballard

Kenyon Class of 1952

Stanley L. Jackson

Kenyon Class of 1952

Robert A. Bennett

Kenyon Class of 1954

Edward T. Rhodes Sr.

Kenyon Class of 1955

William E. Lowry, Jr.

Kenyon Class of 1956

James E. Peters Jr.

Kenyon Class of 1956

Clifford Smith MD

Kenyon Class of 1957

Donald Peppers

Kenyon Class of 1958

(Please note that other black students attended Kenyon during this period, but did not graduate)
Click on the name for each individual student's story.

America in the 1950s



Kenyon in the 1950s