Perhaps you already know the name A. Leon Higginbotham, or maybe you don't. Until his death he served as a U.S. federal judge. Earlier he was a friend and college classmate of my father and his siblings. Not only did Judge Higginbotham go on to be an attorney and federal judge, he became the twentieth century's chief scholar of the foundations of the position of Black Americans in U.S. law. My family had previously shared with me their story about Purdue. Years later I discovered that Judge Higginbotham had recounted it elsewhere again. My father was sixteen when he began studying engineering at Purdue. While she did her studies at Purdue, my aunt lived in the town with a local Black family. My uncle and my father, native sons of Indiana, were among eleven Black male students whose Purdue ordeal Higginbotham described. I found it on the Web and want to share it here. Tuesday night is the televised Congressional Black Caucus Foundation/CNN Democratic candidates' debate from Charleston, SC. Found a link to a Black South Carolina timeline that begins with the 1525 arrival of at least one African along with a group of Spanish settlers.
"... After finishing high school [in Trenton, NJ], Higginbotham
decided to become an engineer and enrolled at Purdue University, in
West Lafayette, Indiana. A winter spent sleeping in an unheated attic with 11 other African–American students caused him to rethink his career goals. "One night, as the temperature was close to zero, I felt that I could suffer the personal indignities and denigration no longer," he wrote in the preface to his book, In the Matter of Color: The Colonial Period (1978). He spoke to the university president, who told him the law did not require the university to "let colored students in the dorm." Higginbotham was advised to accept the situation or leave. "How could it be that the law would not permit
twelve good kids to sleep in a warm dormitory?" he wondered. He decided then and there to abandon engineering and pursue a career in law.
Higginbotham left Purdue to attend Antioch College, in Ohio, where he studied sociology, earning his bachelor of arts degree in 1949. He went on to Yale Law School, and received his bachelor of laws degree in 1952. ..."