Campus Activists

Scrapbook II

In 2003, Judith Saul Stix chronicled her work to desegregate Washington University and the St. Louis community.  Her words describe the events with a straight forward elegance and show how one woman's choice to become involved as a student had a lasting result.

POLITICAL ACTIVISTS FROM THE START

Active political involvement began in 1911 when a "group for women to study questions of public interest" formed on campus called the Government Club.  Noted Women's Rights advocates, including Sylvia Packhurst and Anne Garvin Spencer, spoke to students.  Female students planned events for "Equal Suffrage Rally Day" in 1912.  At local polling sites, students distributed flyers in support of suffrage rights for women.  

In 1914, a Student Life article proudly announced, "Suffrage Mass Meeting Well Attended, 125 attend."  Law professor Tyrell Williams and economics professor Dr. Gebhart both spoke, Mary McDonald was elected chapter president, and forty-five students and faculty signed up as members.   This marked the beginning of Washington University's National College Equal Suffrage League - the first organized in Missouri.

Scrapbook I

ONE WOMAN'S WORK FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

Judith Saul Stix:
"When I came to Washington University in the fall of 1948 it was still a segregated institution.  Though Negro graduate students had been admitted, the undergraduate college remained closed to Negros.  In the spring of my freshman year, a movement began on campus called "SCAN" - the Student Committee for the Admission of Negros.  As a matter of justice, I felt that all doors should be open to anyone, and I played a role in this group, which was led by a politically very mixed group...

Our one big activity, which was deemed very, very radical at the time ..., was a three-day campus vote [on admissions] which our side won -- though of course it has not force, only moral and publicity value.... I was nominally SCAN's publicity chairman in contact with the newspapers...but completely ignorant of how to fill the role.  I kept a scrapbook about our activities which I gave to Chancellor Thomas Eliot during the upheavals of 1968; it is now in the Washington University Archives....


...In the fall of 1949, Marvin Rich and Joe Ames recruited me for the sit-ins that were being held by the local chapter of CORE - Committee of Racial Equality...at downtown eating places. ...These continued every Saturday for months. We would go in as interracial pairs, sexes segregated, and occupy every other seat for hours, waiting to be served.  Small paper signs explained what we were doing....I must emphasize that the group was very small, perhaps thirty people.  All actions were decided by unanimous agreement and according to the principles of 'satyagraha' - Gandhian 'truth-force.'..."