Bryn Mawr and Historically Black Colleges and Universities
The exhibit is located in the first floor of Old Library next to Room 110. The first floor of Old Library is home to the language and history department of campus and location for one of the college’s major traditions, Lantern Night. This tradition is the passing down of knowledge from Athena, the greek goddess, and the sophomores. The passing of illumination and knowledge is similar to this Exchange Program.
In 1962, the Undergrad Association of Bryn Mawr College established the Exchange Committee to run the Exchange Program with Southern Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Between 1963 and 1965, nine Bryn Mawr students visited Livingstone College in North Carolina, Tougaloo College in Mississippi, and Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University) in Georgia. The goal of Bryn Mawr’s Exchange Committee was to learn about higher education in the South for Black students and gauge their reaction to the Civil Rights Movement. In practice, these exchanges received no institutional support from the Bi-Co and were met with waning student interest.
The student-led Exchange Committee worked with Historically Black Colleges and University Student Councils to make all the arrangements for the 5-day exchanges. Three to four students were selected by the Exchange Committee from a pool of interested Bi-Co students to attend Livingstone College, Clark Atlanta University, and Tougaloo College. Students were given the liberty to explore the college town, choosing which classes to attend and which activities to engage at the institutions.Students from those schools were in turn hosted by Bi-Co Exchange Committees members.
“It seems as if we are given advantages far beyond what we deserve. We often take these rights for granted and … are undisturbed by the fact that many cannot share them.”Cornelia Spring (Class of 1963)
“Perhaps these Negroes are in some way the real victors, for on the whole they showed a generosity of spirit and a depth of compassion which we had never before experienced.”Cornelia Spring (Class of 1963)
About the Curator
Keyla Benitez (Class of 2024)
What drew you to this topic?
I attended a charter school that emphasized college preparation for low income communities. Predominantly White Institutions were presented as the goal while Historically Black Colleges and Universities were discouraged. My position as a First Generation Latina attending a Predominantly White Institution has enabled me to experience and question academia through a cross-cultural lens.