The Depression years, from 1929 to 1939, witnessed a nationwide decline in Black enrollment in college and universities. Fewer Black students enrolled at Tufts than in the 1920s. Still, students such as Joseph Walker E33 and Irma Thompson J37 were quite involved in campus activities, each serving as captain on a varsity sports team. Other Black students were trailblazers; one of the first students to enroll at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Antonio de Jesus Cardozo F34, was Cape Verdean and had received his AB from Harvard University and his JD from Suffolk University.
Throughout the decade there were gradual improvements in on-campus race relations. Student-sponsored forums would occasionally host programs addressing the topic of race relations on campus and around the world. In the mid-thirties, students formed the bi-racial group Amity to further understanding among students of different races and to oppose "both individually and collectively, any instances of injustice due to race prejudice coming to the notice of any one of the members." In 1934 the noted writer, composer, civil rights activist and educator James Weldon Johnson was invited on campus to address members of the freshman class.
By the late 1930s, there was a slight increase in the number of Black students enrolled. The class of 1941 included four African-American male students, most notably Edward Dugger E41 of West Medford. As a student and as an athlete, Dugger won the respect of his classmates and peers for his involvement in numerous campus activities and for his stellar performances as a hurdler and sprinter. Perhaps the best measure of Dugger's impact upon the Tufts community was the description of him contained in his class yearbook: "We will never forget Eddie Dugger, who is one of the finest athletes Tufts has ever had. He is unaffected by the fame he has attained, and his leadership and ability will never be forgotten."
– Gill, "Another Light on the Hill" with further research by Cat Rosch AG22