Serious drama began unfolding in October 1972 in the lead up to Florida State University’s homecoming week. As reported in the Florida Flambeau, students had an unconventional choice for Homecoming Queen: Ron Shank.
Mr. Shank’s candidacy for homecoming queen stirred up plenty of controversy. Administrators balked. Rallies were held in his support. Lawyers were consulted. In response to Homecoming Committee chair Dr. Marshall Hamilton’s comments that Shank was destroying the dignity of Homecoming, an commentor wrote:
On the contrary, Dr. Hamilton, we think Ron might enhance the dignity of Homecoming. He certainly appeared dignified in the picture in yesterday’s Flambeau. Such pomp and outright elan–if you will–certainly couldn’t harm the ceremony.
One person even wrote in to express his fears of a racist conspiracy being afoot; Mr. Shank merely being used as an excuse to cancel the entire homecoming court, which had had African-American Queens the previous two years.
Conspiracy or no, that’s exactly what happened. The Homecoming Committee declined to have a Homecoming court for the year of 1972, and University President Stanley Marshall elected to not get involved.
Let’s close with some words from the man himself:
I ran for Homecoming Queen because I don’t believe in parading Women (or Men) around on a stage under the auspices of a beauty contest when physical beauty is only a minor part of a person’s true beauty and definitely not the sole criteria of one’s worth.