Another Light on the Hill Black Students at Tufts

Founding - 1919

While evidence, albeit scant, does suggest that black students may have been enrolled at Tufts College during the late nineteenth century, it has not been firmly established as to the year in which the first black student enrolled at the Medford campus or the year in which the first black student graduated from the college. The first black graduate identified was Forrester Washington, a native of Salem, MA and a member of the Class of 1909. (No picture available) While Washington would later go on to achieve prominence as a social worker, National Urban League official, Dean of the Atlanta University School of Social work, and as a member of the “Black Cabinet” during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, there is no mention in university publications of his undergraduate experiences. Shortly after Washington's graduation, James A. Jeffress did enroll as a member of the Class of 1915. Like a number of the early black students to attend Tufts before 1960, Jeffress was a resident of West Medford. While Jeffress was a math major who would later become a secondary-school teacher, but little is known of his on-campus experiences. Although Jeffress may have been the only black undergraduate on campus, several of the black professional and graduate students took part in campus activities, particularly on sports teams. As professional students were not barred from inter-collegiate sports, black students from the School of Dentistry did play varsity football in the pre- and post-World War One years.

– Gill, "Another Light on the Hill"
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