Baylor University's School of Social Work recently recognized two daughters of the segregated South who served as forerunners for change and equality when they broke the color barrier at the Carver School of Missions and Social Work in Louisville, Ky., in 1955.
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Freddie Mae Bason and Verlene Farmer Goatley recalled their story at a Baylor School of Social Work board of advocates meeting and were honored during a worship service that evening.
Guy Bellamy, who directed the department of work with National Baptists for the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board, recruited the two African-American women to desegregate Carver in 1955. This came on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954, which declared racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional.
The women, both members of the National Baptist Convention's Women's Auxiliary, were aware of the social ramifications of integrating an all-white private school and felt honored by the invitation. Bason took the challenge head-on with little fear.
"I did not feel intimidated. I felt no danger," she said. "For me, God was taking care of me."
Goatley was pleasantly surprised at the warm hospitality shown by fellow classmates and grateful for God's provision throughout her time at the Carver School.
"I was just thankful some of the stories I had heard were not true when we got there," she said. "We just saw God taking care of us wherever we went."
Carver students played a pivotal role in helping Bason and Goatley adjust to the challenges of being the only African-Americans in an otherwise all-white student body.
"They always went out of their way to let us know we were welcome here," Bason said. "Some were from the Deep South and really prejudiced, but the others made up for it and said this is the way it was supposed to be."
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SOURCE: Associated Baptist Press