Presented by Dr. Melissa Johnson (Anthropology), Kristine Velez, SU 2022 (Anthropology); Saul Zuniga, SU 2022 (History). The presentation will briefly lay out the broader context of this area in the mid-1800s; and then delve into the specific histories of Rutersville College, McKenzie College, and Soule University. 

Presented by Dr. Melissa Johnson (Anthropology), Kristine Velez, SU 2022 (Anthropology); Saul Zuniga, SU 2022 (History). 

The presentation will briefly lay out the broader context of this area in the mid-1800s; and then delve into the specific histories of Rutersville College, McKenzie College, and Soule University. 

Southwestern University’s Racial History

As the oldest university in Texas, Southwestern’s history is inseparable from the dispossession of Indigenous peoples and the extraction of value from the labor of enslaved people of African descent that more generally mark the early history of Texas. In addition, antipathies towards Spanish speaking “Mexicans” developed during the Texas Republic and became part of the everyday understandings of the English speaking settlers who created Southwestern’s root colleges. The largest and longest-lived root college, Soule University, was the site of a medical facility for the Confederacy during the Civil War, and many of its students and faculty, like those of the other root institutions, were strong supporters of the “Southern Cause” and plantation slavery.

Our presentation will briefly lay out the broader context of this area in the mid-1800s; and then delve into the specific histories of Rutersville College, McKenzie College, and Soule University. We will show how these institutions contributed to (and benefitted from) a hierarchy of white supremacy that entailed the solidification of the emerging racial categories of “White” “Black” “Indian” and “Mexican.” While there is much to be proud of in Southwestern’s history, understanding how this history is also fully implicated in the elevation of White people and the exclusion and oppression of Black, Indigenous, and Mexican (-American) peoples is critical for moving forward to transform Southwestern into a racially just institution.

Our presentation will have time for Q&A after each section, and again at the end.

Sponsored by SU Race and Ethnicity Studies Program, with research funded by SCOPE  

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