‘The worst mistake I ever made:’ LSU’s first Black student says he grew to forgive university
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - In this town, it’s hard to see why anyone would hate LSU, let alone the clock tower.
“When that chime would go off, it was like a death toll to me.”
Hate is a strong word, one that AP Tureaud, Jr. has dealt with all his life.
The year was 1953. Tureaud, a 17-year-old at the time, wanted to go to LSU, but there was a problem. Black people were mostly not allowed, so his dad AP, Sr., sued the school until a special injunction was granted for him to enroll.
He became the first Black undergraduate student to integrate into the school, but by the time he got on campus, it only took two minutes for him to regret it.
“I got admitted, and I came. The worst mistake I ever made,” Tureaud said.
The governor, the school president, state troopers, students and staff did not want Tureaud on campus
“The rule was, anybody who said anything to me, or was friendly in any way, would be blackballed,” Tureaud said.
And they made sure he knew it, including his former math professor.
“She said, the second day to the class, I don’t know how I’m going to get through the semester because I’ve never taught a ni***r before.”
That’s when the hate started to grow and 55 days later a court order came down saying Tureaud had to leave LSU.
The next week, he enrolled at Xavier University in New Orleans, and his mind about LSU was made up.
“I’m not coming back.”
For the next 30 years, Tureaud never set a single foot on campus, until he got a phone call.
LSU wanted to rename a building after his dad because of his contributions to Civil Rights, but before he could say no, the person on the phone said this...
“‘Well,’ they said, ‘think about it. You have a story to tell, and you can help other students when you come and tell your story.’”
Fast forward to 2023, at the young age of 87, AP has forgiven LSU and is back on campus to inspire the next generation of Black leaders.
“When you think about AP’s contributions, he made that first initial step and it was a very large step for LSU,” said Alexandra Henderson, Political Outreach Chair of LSU’s Black Student Union.
APs says students are still fighting for diversity and inclusion – and he wants the kids of today to learn from him – and run with it.
“It’s astounding to me, especially since a lot of history classes and a lot of history teachers will try to make the Civil Rights Movement seem like it was such a long time ago when really it’s our grandparents, and even sometimes our parents that experienced the Civil Rights Movement, and maybe caught the tail end of it, but for Amanda, it was her grandfather in the Civil Rights Movement, so we may be one generation removed if that.”
LSU has made strides since Tureaud left campus from President William Tate to Law Center Dean Alena Allen there are more people of color in positions of power than ever before – but he says the work is not over.
“It’s a historical journey for me, but I’m not done yet.”
So yes while on the surface it can be hard to see why anyone could ever hate something like the LSU clocktower.
It is inspiring to see how someone can allow themselves to love it again.
“Now, it’s like a beautiful sound.”
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