Recently, one of our community partners, the First Baptist Church (FBC) of Tallahassee, gave us an audio CD with digitized recordings from Dr. C.A. Roberts, the pastor for the church in the 1960s. Tallahassee, as you can imagine, was undergoing a lot of social and cultural change in the 1960s as the Civil Rights Movement started to challenge and change the way of life for the country but particularly, for southern cities.
At the 1965 Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas, Texas, Dr. Roberts addressed the attendees and gave a rousing speech about his efforts to integrate FBC at that time. Dr. Roberts was a fiery speaker and he clearly felt strongly about his duty to help the Church welcoming all parishioners to worship at the Church. At a time when attitudes about such a decision were filled with anger, fear and prejudice, Dr. Roberts shared his story about why it was important to him and how the congregation came to agree with him.
The other recording is a sermon given at some point during Dr. Roberts’ tenure at the First Baptist Church between 1962-1967. It is titled “Ethics of Sex” and is a fascinating glimpse into Dr. Roberts’ and the Church’s feelings about the changing sexual environment of the 1960s. It was especially interesting to us at FSU as Dr. Roberts particularly calls out a recent PowWow he attended at FSU and the behavior displayed by fraternities and sororities at the event as being against the teachings of the Church as regards sex. Many FSU students have attended FBC over the years so I can imagine some students in the audience at this sermon being either very embarrassed or perhaps angered at the sermon and what might have been seen as the Church not keeping up with the times.
Both recordings are a window into a very different time in Tallahassee and the challenges the Church and the community faced as society altered quickly and drastically throughout the 1960s. Please browse all of our materials from the First Baptist Church in DigiNole: FSU’s Digital Repository.
A new set of photographs are now available in DigiNole: FSU’s Digital Repository. The photographs were taken from events at Heritage Day 2004, during which a statue celebrating integration was unveiled on campus. The digitized materials also include a program and newspaper clippings.
Notable people depicted in the photographs include Doby Flowers, FSU’s first African American homecoming princess, and her brother Fred Flowers, the first black athlete to wear an FSU uniform. Other alumni from the first decade of integrated classes (1962-1982) were also in attendance, as were several FSU presidents and former Tallahassee Mayor John Marks III.
Yearbooks are a venerable tradition in high school. They collect and hold memories of a formative time in our lives. Yearbooks also serve as resources for research. They document trends in education, sociology, and demographics. The Digital Library Center recently partnered with Leon High School–the state’s oldest public school–to digitize and make accessible their yearbooks from 1926 to 2013.
One event you can witness through these pages is the integration of public high schools. Leon High School was integrated for the 1963-64 school year. The Leon High School Student Government Association produced this video documenting this change:
Leon High School has also been the home of many notable alumni. In addition to her many academic awards, actress Faye Dunaway was given the superlative “Best Personality” by her class in 1958. Many future politicians, professional athletes, and an X-Games gold medalist have spent time in the classrooms of Leon High School.
FSU Special Collections and Archives are pleased to announce the launch of a new online exhibit, Integration at Florida State University. Created in honor of the 50th anniversary of integration at FSU, the Florida State University Libraries have combed Special Collections and University Archives to bring headlines, stories and images from the era to you.
The exhibit includes newspaper articles from the FSU student newspaper, The Florida Flambeau, that document the activities of students, not only on campus towards integration, but student activism in the civil rights movement in greater Tallahassee. Photographs and documents share many firsts for minorities on campus, as well as sharing their struggles to earn equality in the eyes of faculty, staff, and their fellow students.
Our goal is to present original materials from the time as a tool for research, exploration, and discussion so it is offered with little contextual information.