We don’t mean to mislead you with the headline because you may think that Missouri State University is just getting their first black student, but nothing could be further from the truth. No, we mean they just didn’t accept the first black student that applied to their school. THE VERY FIRST ONE. The student that applied to the school in 1950! But now they’re trying to right the wrongs of the school’s past. The school has decided to present Mrs. Mary Price Wells with an honorary degree because she was never allowed to attend the school.
The time was 1950 and Brown vs. the Board of Education had not been argued yet and won leaving Mary Jean Price to be subjected to the school segregation of the time. So Mary Price, even with graduating at the top of her class with the dream of being a teacher, had her hopes and dreams dashed when she applied to Missouri State College and they denied her admission. Her family couldn’t afford to send her 120 miles away to the nearest black school in the state (now called a Historically Black College or University or HBCU) Lincoln University.
Her dreams of going to college were destroyed in one fell swoop. She took a job as a janitor instead. She got married raised eight children (buried three of them) and went on with it. Now she’s asking the same question we did, “What am I going to do with it? I’m 78 years old.”
Read USA Today’s heart wrenching story about her journey here.