Fall into Diversity: An Exhibit of our University Archives

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This fall, our University Archives has created “Fall into Diversity: My Story,” an exhibit showcasing individuals involved with Texas Tech University whose stories were chronicled among our many, many oral histories. In their words:

“Everyone has a story to share, a perspective that helps better round out the history of a person, place or thing. For 60 years, the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library has conducted oral history interviews as a way of preserving people’s memories and views on a vast variety of subjects. ‘Oral history is both the oldest type of historical inquiry, predating the written word, and one of the most modern, initiated with tape recorders in the 1940s and now using 21st-century digital technologies,’ states the Oral History Association. As of 2016, the Southwest Collection has conducted over 6,500 interviews, recorded through a number of methods as technology has evolved. Many of these interviews feature Texas Tech-related faculty and alumni. This exhibit showcases a small sampling of the diverse interviews done over the past two decades.”

 

Stella Ruth Courtney Crockett (pictured above) was born on October 4, 1943, in Lubbock, Texas, and attended Dunbar High School. In the summer of 1961, after learning that Texas Tech would integrate, she was among a very small group of African Americans who decided to attend. Despite being accepted into the Texas Tech marching band, Stella found it a difficult task to be among the first to break a long-held barrier. For example, she enrolled in another section of a class because the first instructor used disparaging language toward her. Support from her family, church, and community helped her stay on course and she pointed to her mother’s encouraging words of “sticking it out” as a motivator. “It’s my right to be here. I deserve an education and I’m going to get it,” she recalled in her March 3, 2010, interview.

From the 2nd grade, Stella wanted to be a teacher. In May of 1965 she earned her bachelor’s degree and thus became the first African American to attend Lubbock schools from K-12, attend all undergraduate years at Texas Tech, and successfully graduate. Stella retired in June 2009 after 43 years of teaching.

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Anita Carmona Harrison was born on February 17, 1944, in Lubbock. Following a tour of the Texas Technological College campus with her second grade teacher, Mrs. Billie Everton, Anita decided she wanted to attend and started a piggy bank fund. In the fall of 1963 she enrolled at Texas Tech. Of her college years she fondly recalls “meeting people from diverse backgrounds,” hanging out with friends in the SUB, and being taught once again by Dr. Everton, who had become a professor at Texas Tech.

In 1967 she graduated with a bachelor’s degree, went on to teach bilingual kindergarten classes and, in 1969, helped develop Lubbock ISD’s first Curriculum Guide for Bilingual Kindergarten. She continued to teach elementary school while raising two daughters and, in 1999, she retired from LISD after almost 30 years from public teaching.

Anita is recognized as the first Lubbock-born Latina to attend Lubbock schools from K-12, attend all undergraduate years at Texas Tech, and successfully graduate. She grew up in a very tight-knit family and has proudly shared stories of her childhood, family, and community in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal and Latino Lubbock magazine. Her oral history interview was conducted on December 8, 2009.

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Bernard A. Harris, Jr., was born on June 26, 1956. From ages 7 to 15 he lived with his mother on a Navajo Indian Reservation where she worked as a teacher. “She told me I could do anything,” he recalled in a 1995 University Daily interview, and it was under her positive influence that he dreamed he could reach the stars. “I knew I wanted to be an astronaut when I first saw human beings land on the moon.”

Bernard received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston in 1978 and his medical degree from Texas Tech School of Medicine in 1982. His residency at the Mayo Clinic was completed in 1985, after which he worked with NASA where he completed a research fellowship in 1987 and training as a flight surgeon in 1988. On February 3, 1995, Bernard also became the first African American to walk in space.

After his stint as a scientist and flight surgeon with NASA, he went on to serve as a professor of medicine at several Texas universities, and on the Board of Regents at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center. In his December 15, 1998, oral history interview Bernard expressed that he wanted to be known as a visionary or a dreamer.

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Gary Stewart Elbow was born on November 15, 1938. He received his bachelor’s degree from Oregon State College in 1960 and his master’s degree from the University of Oregon. He came to Texas Tech in 1970 as an assistant geosciences professor and later earned his Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburg in 1972.

In his many administrative and teaching roles over the course of 45 years at Texas Tech, Gary observed firsthand the changes the university underwent, most notably the battle over tenure and academic freedom when Texas Tech was censured by AAUP. He also saw the founding of an Honors College, where Gary continues to teach. He has held every position in the Faculty Senate and has worked for many years as a Marshall at graduation ceremonies.

In his June, 20, 2010, oral history interview, Gary reminisced about the university’s changing role under former President Grover Murray in the 1960s and 70s. “So this was an exciting place. Things were really hopping, and the idea at the time was that we were going to become more than just a regional university.” Without a doubt, Gary is one of the individuals who contributed to Texas Tech becoming a Tier One institution.

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James C. Watkins was born on May 28, 1951. In a November 20, 2009, interview he shared how his grandmother and mother encouraged his artistic development by allowing him to use old calendars as drawing pads, and supported him taking “Draw Me” art correspondence courses. James continued his education by receiving his B.F.A. from the Kansas City Art Institute and his M.F.A. from Indiana University. He taught at Indiana University and Hampton University before coming to Texas Tech in 1983 as an assistant professor of architecture.

For over 30 years he has specialized in ceramics, particularly in the use of raku. He is a co-author of two books, Alternative Kilns & Firing Techniques and Architectural Delineation, Presentation Techniques and Projects, and is the subject of a third book, A Meditation of Fire: The Art of James C. Watkins. In 2005 he became a Fulbright Scholar, and his contributions to the field of art were recognized at Texas Tech in 2006 with his promotion to the esteemed rank of Horn Professor. Examples of his work reside in the White House Collection of American Crafts, the Shigaraki Institute of Ceramic Studies in Japan, the Texas Tech University Public Art Collection, and have also been part of two different Smithsonian exhibits.

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Lauro Fred Cavazos was born on January 4, 1927, on the King Ranch. He earned his B.A. and M.A. at Texas Tech University and a Ph.D. from Iowa State University. Lauro taught at the Medical College of Virginia and at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, where he was also Dean from 1975 to 1980, before returning to Texas Tech in 1980 to become its tenth president. He is the first Hispanic and first graduate of the university to hold the title of president.

A recognized expert in both the field of medicine and the field of education, Lauro’s accolades were numerous. Most prominently, on September 20, 1988, he was unanimously confirmed as Secretary of Education, making him the first Hispanic to serve in the U.S. Cabinet. He continued in that position until December of 1990.  The TTU Board of Regents bestowed an honorary degree upon him in 2016.

Cavazos grew up attending segregated schools and was the child of a ranch foreman. In his January 25, 1991, interview Lauro discussed why it was important for Mexican American families to teach their children English and prepare them for school.


Those interested in the exhibit, “Fall into Diversity: My Story” are welcome to visit it from fall until spring at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library’s Coronelli Rotunda.

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Lubbock, Texas’ El Editor Newspaper and the Bidal Aguero Papers

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Today is Cinco de Mayo! If you’re the festive type, we encourage you to celebrate the Battle of Puebla in 1862 (if you live in the state of Puebla, Mexico) and America’s strong connections to Mexican heritage generally (if you live in the United States.) With that in mind, we’re taking a look at a long-time Lubbock, Texas (home of the Southwest Collection!) institution: the Spanish language newspaper, El Editor.

Possibly the longest running Hispanic newspaper in Texas, El Editor was founded by Bidál Agüero (1949-2009). Agüero helped found Lubbock’s Commerciantes Organizacion Mexicano Americano (COMA), the Mexican-American Chamber of Commerce, in 1972. COMA disappeared when Agüero left town, but then reappeared when he returned. At that time, he also founded El Editor. The cover of Volume 1, Number 1, published in October 1977, can be seen above.

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Agüero was also heavily involved in local politics. He joined La Raza Unida Party and ran for local offices such as county commissioner, participated in organizing protests for injustices done against Mexican Americans, and was one of those who filed a lawsuit against the Lubbock Independent School District to change its method of electing school trustees. He even traveled to the Middle East to meet with members of the Palestine Liberation Organization. After the end of the Raza Unida, he joined the Democratic Party. The first page of the December 1980 issue of El Editor mentions both La Raza Unida, as well as one of Agüero’s other causes, the protection and support of recent Latino immigrants to the United States.

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Agüero worked in several Lubbock- and West Texas-area social service organizations such as Defensa, Inc., Chicanos Unidos-Campesinos, and Llano Estacado Farmworkers of Tejas to help such groups as migrant workers. He also worked closely with governmental groups such as the South Plains Association of Governments, the State of Texas, and the City of Lubbock. You can see an extensive article about his work with the Llano Estacado Farmworkers of Tejas in this image from Volume 2, Number 25, in May 1979.

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Here is the cover is of the most recent issue of El Editor that we have digitized and placed among our online digital collections. You can see how the style and layout changed over the preceding 7 years, but the content remained the same. The newspaper is still being published, and we have a nearly complete set of them. Recent issues can also be found all over Lubbock. If you can read Spanish (although many articles are also in English) you might give it a look. In the meantime, we’ll keep working to digitize and make them available online. Please get in touch with our Reference Staff if you’d like to see the other issues in hard copy.

African American Collections at the SWC!

Daniel BensonThis Monday, January 20th, the nation celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. With that in mind, we’d like to share a little about our collections documenting African American history. The Southwest Collection (SWC) houses a tremendous amount of material on this topic, including books, oral histories, photographs, newspapers, and the papers and records of people and organizations. In fact, because we preserve so many items, we’re going to highlight this week only items related to the Lubbock, Texas area (where the SWC lives, in case you didn’t know yet!)

The SWC contains more than two-dozen manuscript collections that refer to African-Americans from the slave era until the present day. As an example, the image above is an excerpt from the Daniel H. Benson Records, documenting the career of the titular Lubbock area lawyer. The subject of this material was described as a “class action suit on behalf of all Black and Mexican American citizens in the City of Lubbock…(challenging) the at large election system [then] used to elect council men to the City Council.”  The original suit was filed in 1976 and the ruling was appealed in 1979. The summary shared above is just one of nearly 1,000 pages of documentation that can be viewed not only in our Reference room, but also among our digital collections.

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In our files are well over 130 professionally conducted oral history interviews relating to African Americans throughout Texas spanning nearly 45 years! In addition, photographs of African Americans appear in numerous collections. The photo shared here is of a cook who worked at the College Inn, a Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) women’s dormitory.

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Our newspaper collections are vast. In addition to the general run of dozens of regional and local newspapers available on microfilm and digitally, the SWC maintains a virtually complete set of issues of the West Texas Digest, published since September 1977 by Eddie Richardson and T. J. Patterson. Its goal was, among other things, to inform the world about the African American community of Lubbock, Texas, and the surrounding region. The publication went through many titles (such as the Lubbock digest, as the above image shows,) but what any researchers really needs to know is that regardless of title we have nearly 1,600 images of the publication spanning 1977 to 2010.

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There was another African American newspaper in Lubbock, this one active during the 1960s. The Manhattan Heights Times was created by Scott and Norman Williamson, and it began publication in 1961. The first African American newspaper in town, it briefly ceased its run in 1965. It didn’t take long for it to return with a new title, appearing as The Manhattan Heights and West Texas Times that same year. This iteration of the paper ran until the late 60s.

We can’t overstate how many materials we have on this subject. Fortunately, our Reference Staff can help any interested researcher navigate through them. Don’t hesitate to give them a shout!

National Hispanic Heritage Month & the TTU Hispanic Student Society

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Submissions for the logo of 1991’s Hispanic Culture Week at TTU, which is held every April.

September 15th through October 15th is National Hispanic Heritage Month. This week, we’d like to tell you about Texas Tech’s Hispanic Student Society (HSS) and our University Archive’s collection of its records. The collection contains details about the association’s activities from 1978 to 2006, including financial materials, newspaper clippings, meeting minutes, membership rosters, posters, one scrapbook, and over 100 photographs.

In 1964, the Mexican-American organization of Los Tertulianos, which means “the Social Gatherers,” became Texas Tech University’s first student organization composed of minority students. Socializing was a key element of their daily routine, as was encouraging, supporting, and embracing their individual quest for a college degree. A natural progression of its their at an academic institution, students via the association promoted the importance of education, spoke out on social causes, and left a legacy for others to emulate.

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This is a promotional flyer for one of the HSS’s many events. This event, Café con Leche, featured several Latino poets and authors sharing their work.

By the early 1970s, Los Tertulianos had assimilated into the University and yet maintained an independent voice. They participated in intramural sports, handcrafted Homecoming floats (their entry won the 1967 Sweepstakes Award,) sponsored a Homecoming Queen, and held an educational seminar for Mexican American high school students. Change in the status quo is never easy, and some viewed Los Tertulianos as militant. Undaunted, the organization continued maturing, and with each new class new challenges were faced and overcome.

At some point the association lost focus, so in 1980 the students refocused and became more active on the social issues front. They renamed the organization the United Mexican-American Students (UMAS.) Like the rising phoenix, this rebirth signaled resurgence in their quest for knowledge of self and heritage. UMAS maintained a foothold on the traditional collegiate experience tempered with a palatable Mexican American flair.

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A submission for the HSS logo when the group underwent its most recent reorganization. Many logos were submitted, all of which can be found in this HSS Records.

The next generation of Mexican Americans students decided to remake the group in their own image and created the Hispanic Student Society (HSS). HSS continues to promote education, find avenues of academic support, and contribute to our community.

As always, our Reference Department is always happy to arrange access to the collection, as well as many of our other materials.

– Daniel Sanchez, Oral Historian at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library.