Rice historian to sign copies of new book on desegregation of southern universities

Rice historian to sign copies of new book on desegregation of southern universities

BY FRANZ BROTZEN
Rice News staff

Rice University centennial historian Melissa Kean will sign her new book, “Desegregating Private Higher Education in the South: Duke, Emory, Rice, Tulane and Vanderbilt,” at Fondren Library’s Woodson Research Center Nov. 13.

The book examines how leaders at five of the region’s most prestigious private universities sought to strengthen their national position and reputation while responding to increasing pressure to end racial segregation.

After World War II, elite private universities in the South faced growing calls for desegregation. While “no federal court ordered these schools to admit black students and no troops arrived to protect access to the schools, to suggest that desegregation at these universities took place voluntarily would be misleading,”  according to the LSU Press, which published Kean’s book. The work describes the institutional tensions and complex interplay between the private universities’ presidents and their boards of trustees over racial admissions.

Kean said she wrote “Desegregating Private Higher Education in the South” because she was “extremely curious about why the trustees of these schools would volunteer to do something that had to be forced on the region’s public universities.” She said she found out “that they didn’t volunteer — they were just forced by different means.”

The reception begins at 4 p.m. Books will be available for purchase, and the author will sign copies upon request.

The event is sponsored by the Rice Historical Society.

For more on the book signing, contact Karen Rogers at khrogers@alumni.rice.edu

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