First Negro Enters Lee College Today

(Note: Copy appears as it ran in the edition.)

By Blue Beathard
Sun New Editor

Lee College’s first Negro student, who began classes Thursday afternoon, said he had no desire to be the first Negro student to attend the all-white college.

“ The only reason I enrolled at Lee Collge was because it fitted into my plans best for working and going to college at the same time,” Alton Vernice Williams said. “Being the first Negro student had nothing to do with it.”

Williams, 21, lives in LaMarque. He works as a pipefitter’s helper at Marathon Oil Co, in Texas City. He will be attending school on a parttime basis while continuing to work for the Texas City company.

Williams was asked how he felt about being the first Negro student in the history of the college.

“ I am primarily interested only in getting an education,” he answered. “I have given some thought to the fact that I will be the first Negro student, but that was not the reason I enrolled.”

If Rice University were integrated, Williams says he would have liked to have enrolled there. He is interested in drafting and architecture and believes that Rice has the best architectural school in Texas. After Williams graduates from Lee College, he may go to Rice if it is integrated by then. If it is not, he plans to go to the University of Houston. The first class Williams was to attend at Lee College began at 5:30 p.m. Thursday. He will be taking drafting technology and pre-engineering. On Tuesdays and Thursdays his schedule will be from 5:30 p.m. until 9:25 p.m., and on Mondays and Wednesdays he will attend class from 5:30 p.m. until 8:05 p.m., he said. Later when he is put on a different shift at his Texas City job, he will begin attending class in the mornings.

Williams said he did not feel that being a Negro student would cause him any problems in an otherwise all-white school. “So far everyone has been very nice,” he said Wednesday.

“ When I registered Monday night, they were very helpful.” “Of course any time you have a change, someone is going to object,” he admitted.

When interviewed late Wednesday, Williams had been working all day and had not heard the news that Negro student James Meredith had decided to return to the University of Mississippi next semester. Told of the news, he said: “I am certainly glad to hear that. I know he has had some academic and other difficulties there, but he should have considered that before everyone went to all the trouble to get him in the school.”

Williams is the son of Mr. And Mrs. Mitchell Williams of LaMarque and he lives with his parents. He is a graduate of Lincoln High School in LaMarque where he specialized in drafting courses. While in high school he was a member of the New Mechanics Club of Texas and played football two years.

After graduating in 1959 Williams enlisted in the army. He served from June 1969 until June 1962 and studied missile maintenance [words unintelligible] School in San Francisco [words unintelligible] stationed in Okinawa two years. During the past six months Williams has been working in Texas City.