WCU celebrates 50th anniversary of integration

WCU celebrates 50th anniversary of integration

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Students, faculty, administrators and honored guests gathered at William Carey University Wednesday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the integration of the school.

The first African-American students attended WCU in the fall of 1965.

Today, minority students make up one-third of the overall student population.

Events Wednesday included a chapel service at Smith Auditorium and the opening of a new art exhibit at the Gillespie Museum called, "Integration: Reflections from the Sarah Gillespie Collection."

The City of Hattiesburg also presented a resolution commemorating the anniversary.

"This occasion is so surreal for me, because it's just an acknowledgement of how far we've progressed," said Linda Williams Cross, one of the first two African-American students to attend WCU. She graduated in 1969.

"Just to have the university see that this is something worth celebrating is very, very special," said Joseph Byrd, vice-president of student services at Xavier University and a 1975 graduate of WCU. "It'll go down as one of the really special times of my life, to be a part of something this historic and this significant."

Byrd was keynote speaker for the service at Smith Auditorium.

Since February, the university has hosted several events celebrating the anniversary.