Eight years before the Georgia Institute of Technology accepted black students, a young man hoping to study mechanical engineering applied to go to school there.
The interactions that followed – the cold indifference shown by Georgia Tech, the support that Robert Cheeseboro received from the NAACP, and newspaper articles detailing his struggles – were archived in the Library of Congress.
Cheeseboro’s daughter, 53-year-old Evelyn Bolton from Gastonia, knew little about it until she found documents shortly before her father died of dementia in February. He was 87 years old.
Library records paint a picture of her father’s struggle as a black man in the south, a time Cheeseboro rarely talked about, Bolton said.
“It’s sad that I never took the time to really understand what he went through,” she said.
CHEESEBORO VS. GEORGIA TECH
Cheeseboro was born in Mobile, Alabama, in 1934 and grew up in Columbus, Georgia, on the western border of the state.
He was smart enough to miss his final year of high school to attend Morehouse College, the historic black men’s liberal arts school in Atlanta, family members said.
In 1953, after a year at Morehouse, Cheeseboro applied to Georgia Tech, located just 4 miles from Morehouse. But for a black man in the 1950s, that was unattainable.
The documents show that Cheeseboro’s application included a transcript of A and B and letters of recommendation. One emphasizes “Cheeseboro’s ability to do a good job and his natural ability to organize and lead people.” Another said Cheeseboro was a member of the National Honorary Society.
Georgia Tech’s answer? He recommended that Cheeseboro go to school outside the state, according to a letter dated March 9, 1953, from L. R. Siebert, executive secretary to the regents of the university system.
The system would even help pay Cheeseboro not to visit Georgia Tech.
“The Board of Governors of the University System of Georgia has approved the provision of scholarship assistance to qualified Negro citizens of Georgia for training in these fields offered to white citizens of the State of the University System of Georgia but not offered to Negro institutions of the university system.” writes in Siebert’s letter.
In his letter, Siebert mentioned about a dozen possible universities, including North Carolina A&T, Howard University, New York University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
But Cheeseboro has persevered in its efforts to enroll in the state-funded campus, letters show. He responded at least four times, asking school officials to reconsider.
“Georgia Institute of Technology is the school of my choice and offers the training I am looking for, so I would ask you to. to evaluate his record based on his merits for admission to the Georgia Institute of Technology, “Cheeseboro wrote.
Black newspapers across the country spread news about how he was treated with Cheeseboro. The Library of Congress sent Bolton copies of articles from Atlanta, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Miami outlining its history.
“Student at Morehouse Seeks Admission to Georgia Tech,” was the headline of the April 18, 1953, Miami Times.
The article describes how the NAACP released copies of Cheeseboro’s correspondence with the school. He also described how the school tightened restrictions, making it almost impossible to accept blacks.
“Last Wednesday, the Regents ordered all units of the system to take entrance exams and also required all prospective students to present certificates from university graduates certifying their good character,” the article reads.
“Of course, that wouldn’t have happened in the south of Jim Crow,” Bolton told The Charlotte Observer.
Cheeseboro never joined Georgia Tech. He left the state to pursue a degree from the University of Rochester in New York.
He eventually made his way to California, where around 1965 he invented a portable player called the Swinger.
The Swinger weighed 5 and a half pounds, came with rechargeable batteries and could be turned upside down or mounted in a car.
Think of it as a precursor to the CD player.
Scrolling forward more than 50 years. From her home in Gastonia, 17-year-old Samantha Bolton, granddaughter of Cheeseboro, applied for admission to Georgia Tech.
At the time, she did not know about the battle her grandfather was fighting.
The family came across documents from the Library of Congress after Samantha came in and shortly before school officials offered her a Provost scholarship.
The scholarship grants 40 first-year non-Georgians an exemption from studying abroad for eight semesters.
Yes, the school she once tried to pay her grandfather to attend college elsewhere would give Samantha money to attend.
And that’s it: Samantha hopes to study mechanical engineering, “like my grandfather.”
Granddaughter Enrolls After Georgia Tech Desegregation Fight – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel Source link Granddaughter Enrolls After Georgia Tech Desegregation Fight – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel