WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - For so many, their love of the Gold and Black runs deep.
As we honor the legacy and lives of African Americans at Purdue, we uncover the heart of the student experience.
Over the years the black community on campus evolved. Beginning with many firsts, from the first graduate of color David Robert Lewis, to the University's first black athlete, Richard Wirt Smith.
People who paved the way for alumni like Leroy Keyes.
"My teachers in high school already indoctrinated us. 'You're going to have to give more than 100 percent, close to 250 because the field is still going to be tilted no matter how great you think you are or how well you're doing,'" commented Keyes.
Black alumni share numerous memories of historic moments that serve as critical turning points at Purdue.
"When the football team would travel, the black players couldn't stay in the same hotel as some of their counterparts. So we said enough is enough. We had our demonstration and it caught Fred Hovde's attention and it got the attention of others on campus because Purdue had been such a tranquil place," added Keyes.
Experiences of racial inequality led to the protests of the 1960s. Those challenges and sacrifices set the foundation for the Boilermakers of today.
"You can be the only black person in your class and in my case probably the only black male in your class, there may possibly be a female, but the only black male in my class whose viewpoints are different from everybody else's," commented student Casby Williams.
Purdue student Chantalle Brown said, "I have friends from all races, friends who come from all different types of economic backgrounds and I just look at them as the person not as, 'Oh you're black, you're white, you're Hispanic, you're Indian, you're Chinese, you're Japanese. I don't look at it like that. I see it as you're a person and I'm going to treat you as a person and that's the way I expect to be treated on campus and off campus."
Some feel more diversity and voices are needed.
"It mainly became an issue when situations will arise on campus and the opinions surrounding were those who did not necessarily understand what it meant to be African-American in America," added Alias Jones.
No matter what background students come from they all share one unified ideological idea.
"I don't really think there's a Black Purdue experience or a Hispanic experience or an international student experience. I just think that you're coming here to get your education and it's a Purdue experience," said Chantalle Brown.
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