The University in Transition

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, FSU students joined black students from the nearby Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), to protest racial inequality during the Tallahassee Bus Boycott and Sit-Ins. The Florida Board of Control, the governing body of the state university system, warned students of punitive action for involvement with demonstrations. Nevertheless, students from both schools were among those arrested for protesting.  

Waldron, Martin. Jan. 23, 1957. FSU, A&M Pupils Told to Stay Out of Bus Fight. Tampa Morning Tribune. Pages 1 and 13. 

Waldron, Martin. Jan. 26, 1957. FSU Head is in Quandary Over How to Ban Student Support of Integration. Tampa Morning Tribune. Pages 1 and 2. 

PowWow Cover.tiff

Florida State University (Editor). (1955). Pow-wow: Florida State University. Tallahassee: Florida State University.

At the university level, longstanding regulations were used to maintain segregation. Students were prohibited from having mixed-race parties or dances. Additionally, though FAMU is located less than three miles from the southeast edge of FSU's campus, the official student handbook, Pow-Wow, forbids students from visiting the other campus without parental escort (below, p. 62). This rule remained officially active until 1958, but segregationist language continued to appear in the handbook until 1964.

PowWow Page 62.tiff

Pow-wow. (1955). Page 62.

New university policies were also adopted to prevent de facto desegregation. In 1964, President Emeritus Doak Campbell authored A University in Transition, which details major changes to the university during his tenure. Though the "transition" in the title applies to the university's conversion from a women's college to a co-ed university, the book does make one notable reference to integration: On page 118, Campbell describes how admission test score requirements were raised to prevent African American students from qualifying for admission to FSU.

FSU_ARCH_AS36F57N40_128_Campbell University in Transition pg 118.tif

Page 118 of A University in Transition  by Doak S. Campbell. 1964. 

Though Campbell claims the new standards did not affect black admission, the university did not admit any black students until at least six years after the adoption of the score requirements.

The "comparative studies" of black and white student test scores that Campbell references above came from the Board of Control's Study on Desegregation. The excerpt below indicates that African American high school students scored significantly lower than their white counterparts on standardized tests. It also suggests that, in the event of court-enforced integration, black universities could be made to adopt the same score requirements as white universities. This would have the effect of drastically reducing black educational opportunities. 

Florida Board of Control. Study on Desegregation, Part I. May, 1956. Pages 28-30. This section of the study describes the proposed admission requirements for all state institutions. The included table presents test scores for black and white students.