African-American Commencement Speakers

Shaunta Alvarez
February 24, 2012

Rev. Joseph Evans

The first African-American commencement speaker at Elon appears to have been Rev. Dr. Joseph H. Evans, who spoke at the 1979 spring commencement. Rev. Evans was the national secretary of the United Church of Christ from 1967 until 1983 except for a year when he was elected president in 1976, becoming the United Church of Christ’s first and only African-American president. Rev. Evans’s message to the class of 1979: “My wish, my prayer, my yearning for each of you of this graduating class in these grand and awful times is that life will be kind to you…Life will be kind to you if you base it on a meaningful set of values…We are sustained over the long haul not by the abandonment to the ecstasy of the moment, but by what we trust and believe.” Continue reading

Black Music at Elon During Integration

Shaunta Alvarez
February 17, 2012

Although there were no African American students on campus until 1963, Elon was not immune to the popularity of the doo-wop, R&B/soul sounds that swept the nation during the 1950s and 1960s. As Elon began to welcome black students to the campus in the mid-to-late 1960s, popular black music groups were also welcomed. Between 1964 and 1970, several African-American groups were invited to Elon to perform during two of the most significant social campus events—Homecoming and Spring Weekend. Continue reading

Wilhelmina Boyd

Shaunta Alvarez
February 9, 2010

Wilhelmina Boyd came to Elon in 1987 as an assistant professor in the English Department. At that time, she was the only African-American professor at Elon. When she retired in 2005 after 18 years of service, she had taught at Elon longer than any other African-American professor. She was not the first African-American professor at Elon, but she has left an indelible mark on the school’s history. Continue reading

Elon’s First Black History Celebration

Shaunta Alvarez
February 1, 2012

National Black Heritage Week was first celebrated at Elon in February 1975. The newly-established Black Cultural Society (BCS) sponsored activities throughout the week:

  • – a program of hymns and poetry by BCS members
  • – a talk by Dr. Raymond McLaughlin, professor of history at North Carolina A &T State University, titled “What it Means to be Black in the Twentieth Century”
  • – a talk by Rev. Marvin Morgan ’71, a Burlington minister, titled “The Standpoint of Theology in the Black Society” Continue reading