Curator: Charles Gibbs
This exhibit, called the Development of Civil Rights at Fontbonne, shows specifically the major events of African American development of integration and inclusion through our history at Fontbonne. This exhibit is a timeline of major events showcasing some of these major events. The beginning shows the racial divide through a book written about Fontbonne. Then it shows how only a few African American students made a difference through occupying the library. Next, it showcases how we have implemented some of these changes these students demanded. It is important to know our racial history to understand where we came from in terms of institutional racism on campus and how we got to where we are today. Yet it also is important to see how it took a long time for some of the changes to finally be implemented and that those students who occupied the library had no love lost for Fontbonne.
Inez Specking's Martha Jane at College, 1926 (excerpts)
Written in 1925, this book is specifically about a student at Fontbonne. These excerpts show explicitly the racial divide, not only in the St. Louis area but racist attitudes towards people of color at Fontbonne University at the time:
'But when it comes to living with them and—and actually touching them'. Martha straightened in scorn" (90).
This is a direct example of how African-Americans at the time were explicitly looked upon as lesser.
Lucille Howard Brantley's Graduation Photo, 1948
This is Lucille Howard Brantley’s 1948 graduation photo. She was the first African American student at Fontbonne University. She was a transfer student and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in home economics with minors in philosophy and science.
Black Manifesto to Fontbonne College, 1970 (selected excerpts)
This is the list of demands by the Fontbonne 8, the eight women who occupied the library, to the administration. They recognized not all of the changes they demanded could be implemented as they wrote this in the Black Manifesto. However, their goal was to start the chain of changes that would promise the change of atmosphere in terms of the racial divide at Fontbonne. Some of their demands were met. while others, like establishing an African-American studies major, were not implemented until as late as 2014.
The Free Spirit, November 1970
November 9th, 1970 The Free Spirit student newspaper tells the story of eight African American women who occupied the library on October 24th of that year to call attention to their demands for their civil rights in the face of racism at Fontbonne. They protested specifically to bring about “an environment which promotes an atmosphere for Black people free from the subtle, stifling racism permeating throughout this institution" (Black Manifesto to Fontbonne College, 1970).
AMC Black Culture Week, 1980's
This document showcases the events in the AMC during February that they called “Black Culture Week” at Fontbonne, which follows along with one of the demands from the Black Manifesto. This showcases the institution attempting to try to right some of their wrongs from the past by giving African American culture some room to breathe.
Soul Sisters | Tableaux Magazine, 2015
Three members of the Fontbonne 8 that occupied the library for their civil rights, returned in the fall of 2014 for an academic convocation speech for the Dedicated Semester on Civil Rights: Then and Now, showing a sense of reconciliation.