Reggie Ellis reports on interviewing one of the "Memphis State Eight"
Reggie Ellis, a past president of the Graduate Association for African American History at The University of Memphis, submitted the following contribution. The photograph of Mr Ellis and Mrs Jones was taken by Mark Stansbury. The issue of the Daily Helmsman in the foreground contains an article about the "Memphis State Eight."
On March 31, 2006, with the assistance of Mr. Mark Stansbury (Assistant to the President of The University of Memphis), I had the privilege of interviewing Mrs. Marvis Kneeland Jones, one of the first African Americans to be admitted at Memphis State University in 1959. The Memphis State Eight, as they came to be called, were made up of five women and three men from around the greater Memphis area. During our interview, Mrs. Jones shared her experience of integrating this institution, which she recalled as a very trying situation.
At this year’s 8th Annual Graduate Association for African American History Conference (to be held 13-15 September 2006), the Memphis State Eight will be honored for their heroic efforts in integrating the University of Memphis, which now has a population of approximately thirty-seven percent African American students. During this event please join me, GAAAH and the entire Memphis community in thanking these eight individuals for their special contributions to The University of Memphis and West Tennessee as a whole.