Race History

January 6th, 2011

I believe the timeline of "Perspectives on Race" is misleading (Elms, November/December). It describes Ethel Robinson '05 as "the first black woman to study at Pembroke." One could assume that from then on there were black students on campus.

In fact, there was probably a decades-long gap. My Pembroke class of 1945 believed it had the first African American student, Elizabeth Jackson Phillips '45. She was a day student and was active in student activities. The 1945 Pembroke yearbook, Brun Mael, shows her as a member of the Question Club and as president of the Christian Association.

In the April 1964 Pembroke Alumna magazine, an article by her appears in a section called "Alumnae Look at School Integration." She wrote: "It is hard to believe that I was the only Negro student at Pembroke for two-and-a-half years. There were many rich and rewarding experiences at Pembroke that afforded intellectual growth and contributed to growth into maturity. Yet at times I felt so isolated, so visible and so burdened with the responsibility of representing my race with honor and credit."

Elizabeth was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and went on to get an MSW from the University of Pittsburgh. She had a successful career in social work. I am sorry that she is no longer living to tell her own story.

Mary Foster Cadbury '45
Rhinebeck, N.Y.

Read Elizabeth Jackson Phillips's complete Pembroke Alumna article here.


The timeline of "Perspectives on Race" fails to cite the program funded by the Ford Foundation in the early 1960s. It was designed to promote admission of selected black candidates whose SAT scores might not have met the usual cutoff for Brown.

James Stewart '65
Syosset, N.Y.

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Related Issue
January/February 2011