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Elizabeth Sloan Ragland: Good morning Samford University. I am pleased to be here, almost 40 years later, having graduated in 1973. I guess this dispels all the rumors that I've been spreading about being 39 years old, but I'm pleased to be here, so to the president of this great university, the provost, the staff members, the faculty, the students, I want to say thank you for inviting me. I want to thank Dr. Denise Gregory for the wonderful hospitality that she has shown while we have tried to make this happen. And so, today I stand 40 years later to tell you a little bit about a little girl who grew up in a little 1:00place. It's not so little anymore, but Oxmoor, Alabama graduated from Rosedale High School in Homewood, Alabama and had the wonderful fortune of attending this university at a time, of course, we had many, many things going on in Birmingham, Alabama. Birmingham had gotten the name of "Bombingham" Alabama. Lots of turbulence, the dogs, the fire hoses, so many things, the bombing with the 4 little girls who lost their lives. Many negative things about Birmingham 2:00and Alabama, so I stand on the shoulders of many who paved the way for me. Those who sacrificed their lives for me to be here this day. To my parents, my brothers and sisters, all my family members, I owe a debt because without them and their sacrifices, I would not be standing here today and that is part of my story. It is historic because this is the one hundredth and fiftieth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the 50th anniversary of the march on 3:00Washington, and this very week, they will be celebrating the march in Selma, Alabama. God is good, that all of this came together on this week, this year, and this date. So, let us talk about coming to this place, on this week, this year, and this date. In 1969, as I was preparing to graduate from high school, I was pleased to have a gentleman who had a tutoring program as a part of our high school and I was looking at the possibility of going to college. No one in my 4:00family, immediate family, had ever gone to college, so I was working with my counselors at my high school and we were trying to figure out a way for me to go to college. Well, we looked at several things and one day while in the tutoring program, this gentleman asked about my plans for college and I said "Well I'm not really sure. We're trying to figure something out." He said "Well have you thought about Samford University?" and with that single question, it set in motion my appearance here today, because based upon that question and my answer, 5:00we got busy, worked out the details, worked out all of the obstacles for me to come to this university, and I have never publicly had an opportunity to say thank you and recognize him, but today I want to take that opportunity to have him stand because publicly, I would like to have Dr. Wayne Flynt stand, because I want to tell you that because of you and all the others before, I am here today, so I want to say publicly, I thank you. I salute you and most 6:00importantly, I love you for what you did in my life. My parents were people who came from a very, I guess background that did not foster education. My father worked in the mines and he worked at US Steel. He never learned to write his name. He always signed his name with an X, but he knew the value of education. My mother was a homemaker and she was able to keep six kids on the straight and 7:00narrow and that's a hard job to do. Three boys and three girls, but she did it. She had a high school education and so, education for both of them was very important and I made my choice to go into speech and drama based upon the recommendation of a man who signed his name with an X, my father. In talking with one of my counselors, it was suggested that perhaps I go into home economics and at that time, that's what it was called, home economics, and my mother and I were discussing it as a possible major in college and my father asked "What is home economics?" and I said "Well I think you do cooking and you do sewing and you do all these things." That's about all I knew about home 8:00economics and my father looked at me and told me "Now look sister, you can't cook. Don’t go up there to Samford University and shame us, because you can't cook. You get something where you can talk. You can talk but you can't cook" and so on the advice of a gentleman who signed his name with an X, I came up here and my major became speech and drama, not home economics, so I did not want to shame the family by being one of those who had to go home because I had killed someone in home economics and that's what he was afraid of, so education and listening. When I arrived at Samford University, we did not have any state 9:00troopers, we did not have any dogs, and we did not have any protestors. Like I said, I owe a debt to all of those who came before me. The ones who went to Alabama and the governor stood in the door, had already opened the door for me and I was blessed. I was not greeted by hecklers. I was greeted by Martha Ann Cox. My mother, one of our neighbors, who came to give her support, Mrs. Jenkins, and I arrived. We were greeted by Martha Ann Cox and she escorted us to my room. So I entered my room and it's all freshmen, when your parents get ready to leave, you think the world is ending. It's the same way as when you go to 10:00preschool. You think you're ready but the world starts ending when your parents start walking away, so when my parents started, my mother, my father said he was not coming. He indicated that he did not participate in any marches and he did not believe in nonviolence, so he said if he came and anyone tried to hurt his child, he was not prepared to be nonviolent, so he did not come, so my mother and her friend came and I was escorted to my room and I was in a room by myself. Well I don't know whether it was meant to be a punishment, to be alone and have no roommate, but it was a blessing. I was sharing a room with 2 sisters so when 11:00I didn't have a roommate at the end of the day, at the end of the week, I said "Mine, all mine. I'm so pleased" and I had 4 years and I never had a roommate. Never had a roommate, but that did not bother me. It was meant to me a lemon. It was lemonade. I appreciated that even when other African American females came on the campus and lived, I did not have a roommate. That's one of the things about being the firstborn. You get to have your way. You're spoiled and so I had 4 years of no roommate and loved every minute of it. But I had some good friends here and with those good friends, I was able to participate in activities, I was 12:00a member of various clubs and activities here on the campus, because it never occurred to me that I could not do and be whatever I wanted to be. I give that to my parents, to my brothers and sisters, to the people in my community, to the little old ladies that for every A that you made, they would give you a dime, for every B you made, they would give you a nickel. They did not have the words to articulate it but they were fortifying you and they were convincing you that you could achieve and I think that is the message that I want to share both black and white because in the end, all of us want to achieve. We want to do 13:00better. We want to exceed, excel in all things, and so it matters not the color of your skin, we all want to make a difference and we all can. Some believe that you have to have a big name, that you have to have an entourage. Well, most of us will not have a big name, most of us will not have an entourage. It will be one on one and so if we do what we do as individuals, then you end up with no sad stories, no complaints. There’s still a lot to do here at Samford University, but I am thrilled 40 years later, to come to this place, and see the changes that have been made. I had prepared to bring a CD because I was going to 14:00play a gospel selection before speaking and Dr. Gregory said "Oh the gospel choir will be performing" and I said "Gospel choir at Samford University? You're kidding." She said "No" I said "Well throw the CD away. I want to see the gospel choir" and you all performed beautifully. Please give them a hand. I have been speaking with a number of students today both black and white and I am pleased to see the number of black students, African American students, however you wish to be known and I was watching the news on CNN and I understand on the census, 15:00they're going to take the word "negro" off the census because people don't want to be identified, so we are an evolving people. We change as we go and that's a good thing, to evolve, and that's what's happening here at Samford University. We are evolving. There are people who are black, who live on campus and nobody thinks anything of it. It just happens. There are people on campus who are participating in all the activities. I spoke with those who are I guess, in sports, who are the president, I believe, of the SGA. It's an African American. Do stand. I want to look at you again. When I was here, I could only remember 16:00five of us on campus. I believe it was 3 basketball players, a football player, and yours truly, living on campus, so now that has changed, and I can't say enough over and over, a lot has changed but there's still a lot of work to be done. We have not reached utopia. We're still striving to make those changes and we never stop, because the world keeps turning. When we look at the various things that have happened over the last 40 years, there have been many tragedies, but there have been many triumphs. There have been those who have 17:00given their lives and continue and in many cases, you can give your life by death. In other cases, you give your life by the work that you do and so positives and negatives in everybody's life, nobody gets a "Get out of tragedy" card. We all have tragedies. I lost my husband in 2011, in January and I stood in the same hospital in June of 2011 and watched my grandson enter this world, jump into this world, arms wide open, and say "World, here I am." So you can 18:00experience tragedy and the sun sets in one life, then you experience triumph because a new life begins and that is life for us all, black, white, it does not matter. We all have the same common experiences. We have more in common than we have in differences and I think once we realize that, it makes it a lot easier for us to reach out to each other. I do not advocate that we want to have a colorblind society. We don't need a colorblind society. There are those who would say "I don't even notice," but it's very hard. I don't think if I came 19:00here in 1969 wearing (?) that no one would have noticed that I was black. I don't think if I come back today wearing (?) no one would have noticed that I was black, but it's the differences that enhances all of us. When we accept that we have differences, but we are willing to work together and we're able to embrace ideas that are beyond our own. It is my belief that education should be transformative, that you should leave a better person than when you came, because you have been exposed to ideas that you didn't have before. Whether that idea came from someone who looks just like you or someone who does not look like 20:00you, we have to respect each other and our ideas and if we do so, the world will be a better place, we will be better people, and that we will make a difference for each other. Again, I am very, very pleased after 40 years to return and see some of the changes that have taken place. When I came, I don't remember any professors that were of color and now based upon the numbers and the research, that has changed. It has changed for the better. I do not remember the ability to just walk around the campus and look and see that many others that looked 21:00like me, but that's OK. That has changed. There are people who can see each other. In the end I think the best thing that happens for all of us is that we open our hearts to each other, that we seek to make that difference for each other, that we pave the way for somebody else and I hope that has been my role since 1973 and leaving here. When I talk with students who have graduated from Samford University, I get a message from most of them that they are pleased, that they came here. In talking with students this morning, the message was "I'm 22:00just glad that I'm here. I came expecting one thing, but I got something else and it was a positive thing." So, I spoke with a colleague last week who graduated from Cumberland law school and her comment made my heart glad. When I told her I was coming here to speak and we talked a little bit about Samford University, her closing comments stayed in my heart and in my head and that was "Girl you know, I love that place" and when she said that about this university, I was so pleased. My heart was moved. Where do we go from here? We go to work. 23:00We keep working. We make certain that more students feel that they can come here and they can have that positive experience. We make certain that more students leave here and when they leave here, when someone asks about this university, that in fact the person can say "Girl, I love that place" because that's a good thing. So if you take anything form what I have said today, then I hope you will take that message of working together, making a difference, and in the end, if the changes continue, then all that I can say is I am so pleased that I made the 24:00journey and that it was worth the journey and that as we continue along our way, that you will reach others and that you will make it a positive experience, whether you are black or white, we all have to work together. Let us have love, let us have peace, let us have understanding and as I leave this place, let me say thank you to all those who paved the way for me and let me say thank you for all those who followed and continue that journey. I am walking but I am pleased to make the walk. I am smiling because I am happy with what I see and if you see 25:00me cry then it just means that there are tears in my eyes because I'm alive. I am transformed and I am so pleased to have had a small part in the journey that has brought us here to this place, this day. Let me end by saying I love you. I love this university and you have given me an entire life because of my experience here, I was able to leave here, work at Alabama Public Television because that relationship with this university and go to Alabama A&M University 26:00where I have spent nearly 40 years. One little seed that you plant can grow. If you plant seeds of bitterness, don't be surprised when your harvest is a bitter crop, but if you plant seeds of love, do not be surprised when you have a crop of love. Faces like the ones that we have today and relationships that will continue to grow. Thank you for the invitation and thank you for the journey. I love you.

0:00 - Introductions

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Partial Transcript: " I am pleased to be here, almost 40 years later, having graduated in 1973. I guess this dispels all the rumors that I've been spreading about being 39 years old, but I'm pleased to be here, so to the president of this great university, the provost, the staff members, the faculty, the students, I want to say thank you for inviting me. I want to thank Dr. Denise Gregory for the wonderful hospitality that she has shown while we have tried to make this happen. And so, today I stand 40 years later to tell you a little bit about a little girl who grew up in a little place."

Segment Synopsis: Elizabeth Ragland introduces her story, and talks about her time before Samford and Civil Rights.

Keywords:

Subjects: Alabama--History Alabama--History--1951- Civil rights demonstrations--Alabama Education--Alabama

2:41 - Growing up in Birmingham; Civil Rights and Coming to Samford University

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Partial Transcript: "It is historic because this is the one hundredth and fiftieth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington, and this very week, they will be celebrating the march in Selma, Alabama. God is good, that all of this came together on this week, this year, and this date. So, let us talk about coming to this place, on this week, this year, and this date."

Segment Synopsis: Ragland talks about her early life in Birmingham and the people who influenced her decision to come to Samford University.

Keywords:

Subjects: Academic majors Alabama--History--1951- Civil rights demonstrations--Alabama Education--Alabama University professors

9:00 - Arriving at Samford

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Partial Transcript: "When I arrived at Samford University, we did not have any state troopers, we did not have any dogs, and we did not have any protesters. Like I said, I owe a debt to all of those who came before me. The ones who went to Alabama and the governor stood in the door, had already opened the door for me and I was blessed. I was not greeted by hecklers. I was greeted by Martha Ann Cox.

Segment Synopsis: Ragland talks about her first experience at Samford University.

Keywords:

Subjects: Alabama--History--1951- Campus visits Education--Alabama Universities and colleges--Students University campuses University professors

11:54 - Activities on Campus; Motivation and Community Support.

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Partial Transcript: "But I had some good friends here and with those good friends, I was able to participate in activities, I was a member of various clubs and activities here on the campus, because it never occurred to me that I could not do and be whatever I wanted to be."

Segment Synopsis: Ragland talks about her activities at Samford, as well as what motivated her at school.

Keywords:

Subjects: Alabama--History--1951- Campus visits College students--Education Universities and colleges--Students

13:46 - The Changes that have been Made

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Partial Transcript: "There’s still a lot to do here at Samford University, but I am thrilled 40 years later, to come to this place, and see the changes that have been made."

Segment Synopsis: Ragland discusses what she sees as changes that have been made in the lives of African American students at Samford since her time as a student.

Keywords:

Subjects: African American gospel singers Civil rights demonstrations--Alabama College students--Education Gospel music--United States Universities and colleges--Students

16:50 - Triumph and Tragedy; Shared Experiences

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Partial Transcript: "When we look at the various things that have happened over the last 40 years, there have been many tragedies, but there have been many triumphs. There have been those who have given their lives and continue and in many cases, you can give your life by death. In other cases, you give your life by the work that you do and so positives and negatives in everybody's life, nobody gets a "Get out of tragedy" card. We all have tragedies."

Segment Synopsis: Ragland talks about how triumph and tragedy has shaped her life, and how such events create shared experiences between people.

Keywords:

Subjects:

19:38 - Education should be Transformative

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Partial Transcript: "It is my belief that education should be transformative, that you should leave a better person than when you came, because you have been exposed to ideas that you didn't have before. Whether that idea came from someone who looks just like you or someone who does not look like you, we have to respect each other and our ideas and if we do so, the world will be a better place, we will be better people, and that we will make a difference for each other."

Segment Synopsis: Ragland explains why education is a transformative experience based on the new ideas that people are exposed to.

Keywords:

Subjects: Education Education--Alabama Universities and colleges--Students

21:43 - "I'm just glad that I'm here."

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Partial Transcript: "When I talk with students who have graduated from Samford University, I get a message from most of them that they are pleased, that they came here. In talking with students this morning, the message was "I'm just glad that I'm here. I came expecting one thing, but I got something else and it was a positive thing." "

Segment Synopsis: Ragland talks about the lasting impression that Samford has on her and others.

Keywords:

Subjects: Alabama--History--1951- Universities and colleges--Students

23:39 - Closing Remarks

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Partial Transcript: "So if you take anything form what I have said today, then I hope you will take that message of working together, making a difference, and in the end, if the changes continue, then all that I can say is I am so pleased that I made the journey and that it was worth the journey and that as we continue along our way, that you will reach others and that you will make it a positive experience, whether you are black or white, we all have to work together."

Segment Synopsis: Ragland talks about working together to make a difference is how people can continue to causes change.

Keywords:

Subjects:

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