Willie Faye Battle
graduated from Wichita Falls’ Booker T. Washington High School as valedictorian
in 1950. She applied and was accepted to Midwestern University, but was turned
away when she came to the campus – her application revoked. During the next
year, five additional black students applied, only to be denied. It would be
four years before black students were accepted.
The Texas Historical
Commission has recognized the desegregation of Midwestern University by
awarding an official Texas Historical Marker to commemorate that important event
in local history. The marker will be dedicated at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 25,
near Midwestern State University’s Ferguson Building.
In 1951, a complaint was
filed in district court in Wichita Falls on behalf of those six students who
were denied admission. Attending the dedication will be Marilyn Menefee
Billouin, the last living plaintiff, and men and women who were among the first
to integrate MU and their descendants. Also in attendance will be Chase Thorton
and Robert Stewart, two MSU students whose research in 2008-2009 brought to light
that time in MSU’s history.
“Awareness and education
are among the best ways to guarantee the preservation of our state’s history,”
said Mark Wolfe, executive director of the THC. “It is vital that as we move forward,
we do not forget our past.”
A subject qualifies for a
marker if two basic criteria are met: historical significance and age. Historical
significance is established by reviewing its role and importance in local history
and the age requirement depends on the topic. The THC’s Official Texas Marker
Policies are outlined in the Official Texas Historical Marker Procedures, which
may be obtained by contacting the History Programs Division, Texas Historical
Commission, at 512-463-5853 or visiting the web site at www.thc.state.tx.us.
For more information about the MSU dedication, contact Dr. Syreeta Green at