The Transition of a Historically Black College to a Predominantly White Institution

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This study investigates the evolution of Bluefield State College from Black to White. The college is located in Bluefield, West Virginia and was founded in 1895 as an all-Black institution. By 1980 it lost that identity. This study attempted to determine why that transition occurred. The research examined the forces that played an essential role in the transition. They included the demographics of the college community, the socio-economic-politico forces, curricular and programmatic changes, and the role of the Alumni Association. These forces were examined from the pre-Brown vs. Board of Education 1954 Supreme Court decision throughout the transition to determine how each force impacted, influenced, or provided direction for the transition.

Both a qualitative and quantitative approach was used to study these forces. The literature review included the history of Bluefield State College and other historically Black colleges regarding desegregation. The study also relied on media accounts, journals, magazines and other documents. Brown's Tipping Point Theory (2002) and Parker's Critical Race Theory (2003) provided a frame of reference to examine the social, economic and political forces affecting the transition. Descriptive data were gathered through the administration of 100 survey questionnaires and ten in-depth interviews.

The findings indicated that all the forces except the role of the Alumni Association combined and interacted to bring about the transition of Bluefield State College from an all-Black to a predominantly White institution. While the 1954 Brown decision played a critical role it did not act alone to bring about the transition. Further, the findings of this study are consistent with Brown's (2002) earlier study of Bluefield State College and are also supported by Parker's (2004) Critical Race Theory and his research on desegregation. Finally, evidence that emerged from the study suggested that the Alumni Association remains the last vestige of Black tradition at Bluefield State College.