The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, is one of several of the nation’s oldest universities that have mounted efforts to examine the institutions’ ties to slavery. (See JBHE post.)
The university has also mounted an effort to document the history of African American students on campus. A new book – Building on the Legacy: African Americans at William & Mary – is authored by Jacquelyn McLendon, professor of English, emerita. Organized chronologically, Professor McLendon explores the gradual advancement of Black people at the university along with information about the first undergraduate African-American students in residence, who arrived in 1967. She also tracks the history of African Americans among the faculty and in administrative leadership roles at William & Mary.
“This book is not about black people as victims,” Professor McLendon said. “Some of the stories are told in terms of some of the hardships and challenges, but the book mainly shows the contributions Black people have made to William & Mary. We have contributed to better the place, and that’s what people need to know. We give to this university, and we belong here. That was an essential, driving force for me, finding those stories.”
Dr. McLendon is a graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.