The Revoluntionary College Project
Family of Thomas Morris

ABOVE - The family of Thomas Morris ’62, WC’s first African American alumnus, met with President Toll and students. Pictured (left to right) are Danielle Williams ’00, Jared Morris, a recent graduate of Howard University Law School, Mellasenah Morris with son Miles, Dr. Toll, Kia Massey ’00 and Dericka Scott ’01.          

Red SwirlCollege Pays Tribute To First Black Students 

Washington College recently honored four of its pioneering students, the first black undergraduates to integrate what was, in the 1960s, an all-white campus. At a weekend organized by the current Black Student Alliance, the four Washington College graduates recalled their groundbreaking college experience.

“One night the girls in my dorm decided to go to the movies in Chestertown,” Patricia Goldbolt White ’64 recalled during a panel session on campus. “Once we’d bought our tickets and gone inside, I was pulled aside by the manager and told that I had to sit upstairs in the balcony. I went sadly up the stairs and settled in. “The next thing I knew the black balcony was all a-bustle. The white girls from my dorm had come, with popcorn and Cokes, to settle in around me.” White is now chairman of the science department of Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk, and the author of a book of inspirational poetry, Evolution of Espirit’d P.G. When White came to WC, there was only one other black student on campus, a sophomore named Thomas E. Morris. Morris died in 1995 after a 25-year career as a mathematics teacher in Baltimore schools. “His students continued to drop by our house for years and years after they’d graduated from his classes. He loved computers and reading,” his wife, Mellasenah, told the audience while accepting his honors. “But most of all he loved young people, his sons and daughter and his students. What he learned at Washington College made a difference in his life and, in his turn, he made a difference in the many, many lives that touched his.”

Dale Patterson Adams ’65 was the first African American tapped for the Washington College Board of Visitors and Governors, a post she has held for 14 years. A retired chemist living in Chattanooga, TN, Adams urged current students to remain active on campus. “Struggle and strength. Two eight-letter words,” Adams said. “Strength and struggle. You will find these in proportion to each other at Washington College, in the world and in your selves throughout your lives. Many things that needed to be changed have changed. Many things that need to change have not yet.”

During the talk, Marty Smith embraced Patricia Godbolt White for the first time in 35 years. “She wouldn’t let me do that often as an undergraduate,” he explained to everyone in the room. By the time Smith arrived as a freshman in 1963, there were two other African Americans studying at Washington College: senior Patricia Godbolt and junior Dale Patterson. “Pat was my mentor,” Smith said, “but she kept me at arm’s length. Pat and Dale told me on the day I met them that we were not going to ‘clump.’ I was going to have to make my own way as they had. “So I did. I made friends with my classmates and my teammates. Friends I would keep for life. I’d be standing in one of these white clumps and Pat would walk by with her friends, nod at me and smile this great smile. She was a good teacher then, just as she is now.”

At his Washington College graduation, Marty was the recipient of the Clark-Porter Medal, which is awarded to the student whose character and personal integrity have most clearly enhanced the quality of campus life. He went on to receive his master’s and doctoral degrees in economics from Cornell University. A former fellow of the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C., Marty is currently economic analyst for the Congressional Budget Office. “My advice to you,” Marty told the current students: “Do not let your Washington College experience be directed only toward the subjects in which you are most competent and the people with whom you are most comfortable. “If you do, you alone will be responsible for your limitations. Meet all kinds of people, meet all kinds of challenges and you will be happier for having met them.”

                                 

Washington College Magazine - Summer 99


Update: Marty Smith is currently an economist for the Federal Reserve
Bank of Philadelphia. He also was the first African American named to
the Washington College Athletic Hall of Fame.                

 


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