The photograph is featured in a newspaper from 1955, and it is focused on a women’s basketball player dribbling down the court. I found this picture interesting and important because the player is a black woman named Dorthea Green. I have a personal connection to this picture because I am one of the two black women on the basketball team at Misericordia University. My freshman year, I was the only black girl on the team which was a very difficult experience. When I saw this picture, a flood of questions came rushing to my mind! First, I discovered that Dorthea is from North Carolina, so how did she find Misericordia University? Then, I was curious about when Misericordia began accepting students of color, and how were they treated on campus. During the 1950’s, the demand for black people to attend higher education institutions significantly increased. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled “separate but equal” for all educational institutions; however, we are aware that the black students were not awarded the same treatment and quality of products and services compared to the white students. However, I am giving Misericordia during the Jim Crow era the benefit of the doubt. We are a school founded on the principles and beliefs of the Sisters of Mercy, which addresses racism. After seeing this picture, and learning about Dorthea; I am very interested in exploring the topic of when Misericordia became integrated.
“As Others See Them,” Miss Recordia (June 1940). University Newspaper Collections RG 830, Misericordia University Special Collections, Dallas, PA.
I enjoyed reading the article, As Others See Them because it gave me insights into the personality qualities that were valued in the 1940s. The fun part of the article for me was that they picked twenty-four qualities which they felt were outstanding. They then picked a student who embodied the specific quality. Some of the attributes were “most humorous,” “jolliest,” “kindest,” “loyal,” “original,” “most reserved,” “useful” and “most vivacious.” It reminded me of Jane Austen’s characters in Pride & Prejudice or Emma. It was refreshing in that there seemed to be an honest innocence in the process. I wondered if the girls saw these qualities in themselves?
They also collectively chose Glenn Miller as their favorite orchestra and Spencer Tracey and Bette Davis as their favorite actors. Interestingly, they picked their favorite past time as reading and their favorite activity as dancing. I thought, what responses would we get today? It took me to a different time. The thinking seemed more collective.
It also discussed politics. Interestingly, the article started with the comment, “the students turned out almost one hundred percent strong to drop their votes in the ballot box.” We can assume, because it was 1940, that it was the presidential election between Franklin D. Roosevelt and Wendell Willkie. It was impressive to me that the seniors at College Misericordia were politically active and involved in the voting process of the United States.
One of the most interesting events I came by when doing all of the service learning projects is the May Day. May Day was an event held on campus when the school was still an all girls campus. Basically, students were picked to be the “May Day Queen.” I have a lot of questions about this because this is an event that would not happen now. I wonder where the event originated from and why it was decided to be put on for so many years. I like how in the article it shows that there was a “crownbearer” for the event. It was a very formal and a very interesting event. The outfits that the women wore were so fancy and it was as if it was a prom. Where the students put onto a court and then chosen by off of that? I wonder if the woman that won had to do participate in other events because she was chosen as the May Day Queen. One thing I find very interesting is that I wonder how open this event would be today. Would a campus be allowed to have event like this today? I feel like there truly isn’t that huge of a difference between this and having a homecoming King and Queen.