New Centenary Archives exhibit celebrates College's integration

SHREVEPORT, LA — A new exhibit, Integration at Centenary, 1966-1968, from the Centenary Archives and Special Collections is now on display in the Whited Room lobby of Bynum Commons. It honors the 50th anniversary of the college's first African-American undergraduates.

"Many pieces of information make up the history of integration at Centenary," said Centenary Archivist Chris Brown '01. "We decided to focus on the student activities and interests of the first African-Americans enrolled at the college. I hope this approach proves educational for current audiences and serves as a launching pad for future researchers."

The exhibit includes photographs and printed items documenting the women and men responsible for integrating the undergraduate student body. The items selected for display also highlight the students' interests such as playing in the band, joining the basketball team, and participating in productions at Marjorie Lyons Playhouse.

Brown and student workers Olivia Brignac '19 and Harrison Folse '19 researched and prepared the exhibit. It is on display from January through May 2016 and is also accessible online at

"I researched the activities that the first African-American students participated in while at Centenary by looking through school newspapers, yearbooks, and other archival materials in order to help write captions for the photos," said Brignac. "From that research, it seems that the Centenary community was very welcoming to these students. But it is important to remember that we can't really know for certain because we weren't there, and images can only tell us so much about the past."

Harrison Folse especially enjoyed some of the surprises that the research brought.

"One really cool thing I learned was that people said a certain director was the first person to cast an African-American in a play at Centenary, but while looking a pictures for this exhibit, we discovered the first African-American cast in a play was earlier than everyone thought," said Folse. "Without the Archives, we would never have known that."

The mission of the Centenary College Archives and Special Collections is to collect, preserve, and make available the historic records of the College and the Louisiana Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. For more information, contact Chris Brown at 318.869.5462 or

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