Capital Region woman helped make civil rights history

March 17, 2017 01:40 PM

Stella Crockett Courtney grew up in a close knit, religious family

But in Lubbock, Texas in the 1950s, not even God was enough to bring blacks and whites together.

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Texas Tech was a state-of-the-art university back then and a major economic impact on Lubbock. But in 1961, it garnered attention for something else.

At one time, Lubbock had a KKK chapter. So, when Courtney and several others integrated the university, not everyone was happy.

"I don't think he looked at me when he called me 'that word’ but he was talking about me and about us," Courtney said.

The "he" would be her teacher using the "n-word" as he explained to the class what had happened at the university.

She remembers that time as being lonely, but it would get worse. The marching band was scheduled to perform for the new governor, but blacks were told they couldn't stay in the same hotel as the band.

She refused to go on the trip, but she did go on to become the first African American four-year student to graduate and made history.

She became a teacher, left Texas and eventually taught in Schenectady. While what she did didn't create a lot of fanfare and she shared her ordeal with few people, what she did was arguably made Lubbock a better place.

WEB EXTRA: Stella Crockett Courtney


WNYT Staff

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