Historical marker to recognize MSU's desegregation

Historical marker to recognize MSU's desegregation

Willie Faye Battle graduated from Wichita Falls' Booker T. Washington High School as valedictorian in 1950. She applied and was accepted to Midwestern University, but was turned away when she came to the campus - her application revoked. During the next year, five additional black students applied, only to be denied. It would be four years before black students were accepted.

The Texas Historical Commission has recognized the desegregation of Midwestern University by awarding an official Texas Historical Marker to commemorate that important event in local history. The marker will be dedicated at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, near Midwestern State University's Ferguson Building.

In 1951, a complaint was filed in district court in Wichita Falls on behalf of those six students who were denied admission. Attending the dedication will be Marilyn Menefee Billouin, the last living plaintiff, and men and women who were among the first to integrate MU and their descendants. Also in attendance will be Chase Thorton and Robert Stewart, two MSU students whose research in 2008-2009 brought to light that time in MSU's history.

"Awareness and education are among the best ways to guarantee the preservation of our state's history," said Mark Wolfe, executive director of the THC. "It is vital that as we move forward, we do not forget our past."

A subject qualifies for a marker if two basic criteria are met: historical significance and age. Historical significance is established by reviewing its role and importance in local history and the age requirement depends on the topic. The THC's Official Texas Marker Policies are outlined in the Official Texas Historical Marker Procedures, which may be obtained by contacting the History Programs Division, Texas Historical Commission, at 512-463-5853 or visiting the web site at www.thc.state.tx.us. For more information about the MSU dedication, contact Dr. Syreeta Green at 940-397-4084.

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