Elizabeth Eckford would not have fit in at Boise State University.
Elizabeth Eckford? Yes, this goes back a bit but she was the subject of a famous photograph taken in 1957. The struggles Elizabeth overcame and the courage she demonstrated are the perfect antidote to latest shenanigans by the obtuse college administrators at Boise State.
Not to digress – well actually, we are digressing on purpose – but between speech codes, free speech zones, time-out rooms, stress teddy bears, skyrocketing tuition and the abuse of due-process on college campuses it seems most college administrators aren’t very good at administering.
The brain trust at Boise State University recently made news - news that makes the reference to Elizabeth Eckford timely.
Ms. Eckford was a 15-year-old girl when the picture of her surrounded by white students – along with some men in hard hats – yelling, cursing and shouting at her was published. Ms. Eckford was subjected to the abuse because she had the audacity to try to attend the same school as other kids.
Oh yeah, minor detail. Ms. Eckford is black.
The photo was taken at the height of the heat and hatred over segregation. Courts had ruled that black children had the right to attend the same schools as white children.
People today won’t understand, but in 1957 there was an abundance of racists. Those were ugly times. This is how Ms. Eckford describes the events when the photo was snapped:
"I stood looking at the school— it looked so big! Just then the guards let some white students through. The crowd was quiet. I guess they were waiting to see what was going to happen. When I was able to steady my knees, I walked up to the guard who had let the white students in. He didn’t move. When I tried to squeeze past him, he raised his bayonet and then the other guards moved in and they raised their bayonets. They glared at me with a mean look and I was very frightened and didn’t know what to do. I turned around and the crowd came toward me. They moved closer and closer. Somebody started yelling . . ."
Ms. Eckford goes on to describe how the crowd threatened to lynch her and how they used the “N” word to add gusto to the threats.
Think of that. A 15-year-old girl, trying to go to school, accosted, threatened and spit upon. And that was the adults. Her classmates were likely worse. Compare that to today’s teens who rush to the counselor when someone posts something mean about their hair.
The courage it took for her – and many other young people – to defeat segregation cannot be underestimated. Young black students were subjected to awful, horrible abuse and violence - yet they refused to back down.
And don’t minimize how their parents suffered. To see your child abused, yet refusing to allow them quit school, is a credit to them as well. Today, if a teacher looks cross-eyed at a kid, mom is snarling at the principal within hours.
Sixty years after the misery, we don’t appreciate or understand how much some people sacrificed to end segregation.
Certainly the brain trust at Boise State doesn’t. They’re bringing it back.
News recently broke how a group of legislators castigated Boise State for, among other things, having separate graduation ceremonies for black students and another for gay students. The programs are part of the school’s so-called diversity, equality and inclusion efforts.
Of course this sort of inanity is not limited to Boise State. Universities have practiced segregation with separate graduations, different organizations, special clubs and select living quarters based on skin color for years. What’s more, they spend millions every year – and bill students and taxpayers – to hire overpaid bureaucrats in the name of diversity.
But if you’re thinking separating students based on skin color is the opposite of “inclusion,” you may be right. Given all the sacrifices people like Elizabeth Eckford made to crush segregation, this is worse than dumb.
Dumb and “institution of higher learning” are words that should never be connected. But with outrageous fees, bloated bureaucracies and a bent for segregation, it seems to be happening with more frequency.
DAN HAMMES is publisher of the Gazette Record.