LUBBOCK CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY AND RACIAL INTEGRATION: 1957-1965 In recognition of those first African-American students who enrolled at Lubbock Christian University, 1963-1965

Lubbock Christian University was founded as Lubbock Christian College in 1957. It was established as a two-year junior college, became a four year institution granting bachelor degrees in 1971, and became Lubbock Christian University in 1987, with the addition of graduate degrees. 

The two-year college was founded during a time when states were considering the impact of the 1954 Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education, mandating the integration of all races into public educational institutions “with all deliberate speed.” 

Lubbock Christian University (then a two-year junior college) opened its doors to a mere 110 students who met for their classes in temporary (in some cases, military surplus) wooden buildings that had been moved to the campus and installed on cinder block foundations. There were no African-American students among those 110, and it would be another five academic years before African-American students began attending the college 

During a time when Texas colleges and universities were beginning to admit African-American students between 1961 and 1965, occasionally in token numbers, Lubbock Christian College may have been among those who gave early official approval for the admission of African-American students. In fact, in July, 1961, the Board of Trustees passed a motion that “the college accept the application of any student that meets the standard college and LCC requirements” after LCU’s president, Dr. F. W. Mattox, told the board of an outstanding African-American girl’s application. This resolution was intended to apply to all African-American students but was underscored by a vote by the board. The board had given unanimous consent to everything that had come to a vote from the college’s founding in 1957 to that moment in time. However, in this vote, while overwhelmingly approved, three voted “no,” and one abstained.        

Still, though research and interviews have produced no explanation, African-American students did not arrive until the Fall semester of 1963. Seven students, all but two from Lubbock, enrolled along with a total student population of around 450 in that sixth year of the junior college’s existence. 

From the memory and perspective of observers of those days, 51 years ago, there was little, if any, drama involved in the enrollment of the first African-Americans. The evidence from interviews with people who were close to the institution in those days suggests that the presence of African-American students was easily and quickly accepted by students, faculty, and staff. 

On Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, at the university faculty conference, the Lubbock Christian University community had the opportunity to relive those days as Jimmy Vinson, Robert Evans, Nathaniel (Bubba) Harris,  and Marvin Levels, all who enrolled in the Fall semesters of 1963, 1964, and 1965, shared their own memories of those days in a panel discussion. 

In honor of the students who broke the path for scores of African-American students who would ultimately enroll at Lubbock Christian University, we have listed the names and a bit of information about each of them: 

1963-64 School Year 

  • Ken Adams, of Atoka, Oklahoma, was the first African-American basketball recruit and a member of Koinonia Men’s Social Club. 
  • Ella Moore, of Lubbock, was a member of Kappa Phi Kappa Women’s Social Club and representative on the Interclub Council. 
  • Della Newman of Lubbock.
  • Joyce Robinson, of Lubbock, was a member of Kappa Phi Kappa and was the band’s representative to the Music Masters. 
  • Billy Tucker, of Lubbock, was a member of the band. 
  • Jimmy Vinson, of Atoka, Oklahoma, was a member of the A Cappella Chorus and was the first African-American recruited to play on LCU’s baseball team. 
  • Mildred Williams, of Lubbock, was a member of Student Senate, the band, and was an officer in Christliche Damen Women’s Social Club.

That 1963-64 group was joined in the 1964-1965 yearbook by:

  • Mildred Alexander, of Lubbock. 
  • Ossie Curry, of Lubbock, was a member of Sigma Kappa Chi. 
  • Robert Evans, of Hobbs, New Mexico, played on LCU’s basketball team and went on to be a nationally recognized NCAA basketball coach. 
  • Nettie Hawthorne, of Abernathy, was a member of the Young Democrats Organization. 
  • Nathaniel (Bubba) Harris, of Brady, was a member of both the basketball and baseball teams.
  • Grace Isaac, of Lubbock. 
  • Bobbie McDaniel, of Hale Center. 
  • Houston Moore, of Lubbock. 
  • McKinley Shephard, (hometown unknown) was a member of the forensic team and a member of Young Democrats.
  • Alvin Sterling, of Lubbock. 
  • George Thompson, of Lubbock. 
  • Girlie Ann Vivens, of Turkey, TX. 
  • Tommie Williams, of Lubbock. 
  • Charles Hawkins (hometown unknown) was a member of the basketball team.

While 20 African-American students are pictured in the 1964-65 yearbook, it is possible that there were others as some students may not have been present for yearbook photo appointments and there were no records kept of the ethnicity of students during those years.

Compiled by Dr. Steven Lemley