Dinner honors black pioneers on campus

The idea of building relationships and challenging social norms was reiterated at the African-American Firsts Dinner on Wednesday night at the Kelly Alumni Center.

Inclusiveness and Intercultural Services hosted the dinner, which honored five black TCU pioneers for their individual accomplishments, and celebrated Black History Month.

Ronald Hurdle, who was the university’s first black cheerleader, said he didn’t realize he was paving the way for future students at the time.

“We didn’t think that we were doing anything special,” Hurdle said. “We were just trying to find something where we fit in and that we could enjoy.”

The guests of honor answered questions throughout the evening, mostly about their adverse experiences as students.

“I couldn’t let the attitudes of a few challenge what I wanted to do,” said Mildred Martin Sims, who was the first president of the African-American Alumni Association.

Yendor Reese, a 2007 graduate, said all students must work toward a common goal if they want to see a change on campus during their collegiate tenures.

“You only have four years to make an impact on TCU’s direction,” Reese said.

Cristina Ramos, program coordinator for Inclusiveness and Intercultural Services, said the honorees’ accomplishments should be acknowledged no matter one’s perspective.

“Regardless of what your ethnic background is, we’re all a part of the TCU family and our accomplishments should be celebrated by one and all,” Ramos said.

All five honorees recalled hard times but said their stays at TCU were mostly positive.

“Even if they really were negative, it gave me a different outlook on things,” said Jennifer Giddings Brooks, who was the first black Homecoming queen in 1971.

Anthony Cregler, who was one of the 14 black students admitted to TCU in 1965, said he is encouraged with the progress of race relations but that it must continue.

“Once you get past the color barrier, there are a lot of relationships to be made,” Cregler said.