E&H Mass Comm Student Story: Katie Bolling tells the story of Emory & Henry’s first female African American graduate

by Monica Hoel
This is part of a series of stories by members of the 2022 E&H Mass Comm 302 Class.

Dr. Rosemary Gray was making history during her time at E&H without even knowing it.

After receiving her B.A in English in 1968, Gray became the college’s first African American woman graduate.

Originally from Gate City, Virginia, Gray knew early on that she wanted to continue her educational career beyond high school, so she attended Morristown College in Morristown, Tennessee for two years before the circumstances fell into place just right to lead her to Emory.

“The churches were integrating during the time I was in high school,” Gray explained. “The Methodist church I went to, we would visit the United Methodist Church that was white, and I had visited Emory & Henry College. I fell in love with Emory & Henry College’s campus.”

Gray says, at the time, she did not think anything was extraordinary about her decision to attend E&H, or college at all.

“I saw how hard my mother worked, she was the building manager at a bank, but I also had friends who were going to college,” she said.

Even after getting to campus and seeing how few Black students there were, Gray was not fazed due to her upbringing in a mixed-race neighborhood.

“I felt very comfortable with other cultures because I grew up in a mixed neighborhood during a time when most people were still segregated. So I was never afraid to meet people,” she explained.

Although Dr. Gray was seemingly unbothered by being a minority at the college, other members of the community expressed their displeasure with her being there, which was evident as soon as she arrived and began to make housing plans.

Gray traveled with her Methodist church the summer before she came to E&H producing plays to help people understand integration. Through this program, she met a friend also going to the college who she hoped to room with, but faced pushback when arriving on campus.

“My classmate and I, we could not room together,” Gray stated. “Her mother did not want her to room with a Black student, so I was put in a private room at Martha Washington [dormitory], and then I found a white student I could room with.”

Unfortunately, this was not the only obstacle Gray would face while at E&H due to the racism of others. She recalled a particularly poignant moment that occurred shortly after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“When Dr. King died, people ushered me down to Martha Washington Hall because they were afraid something could start on our campus, and it did,” she said. “The girls that I was with said, ‘Let’s walk to the general store,’ and we did and some white guys from Hillman Hall yelled out, ‘I’m glad he’s dead! I’m glad he’s dead!’”

Despite this, Gray maintains that she never even considered dropping out of college or obtaining her degree anywhere else.

“My mother always told me, ‘I know you are going to be a leader in something, I just don’t know what.’ I was never a quitter,” she stated.

Gray was proud of her accomplishments at the time, however; she was unaware that she was the first Black woman to graduate from the college, saying it never crossed her mind.

“I don’t remember people talking about it. There would be no reason for me to ask. I’m sure the college knew, but I didn’t realize what was happening. I don’t think I realized what was going on until after I graduated,” she said.

After graduating from E&H, Gray went on to receive an M.A in Education from Catholic University and an Ed.D in Educational Leadership and Political Analysis from East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tennessee. She pursued a career in education, and eventually ended up working with multiple colleges’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion centers before retiring.

While she realizes college has come a long way since she attended E&H, having to experience segregation firsthand inspired Gray to continue to work until everyone in college was treated equally, and she believes that is still a work in progress.

“I think there will always be a lot of work to be done when you’re dealing with people,” she said. “We’ve got to learn to look at people as people. Most people hang with people that have the same interests, but we don’t have to hate people.”

 

Story Author, Katie BollingClass of 2023Double major: B.A Mass Communications and B.F.A in Theatr...

Story Author, Katie Bolling
Class of 2023
Double major: B.A Mass Communications and B.F.A in Theatrical Performance

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  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1679-the-trap-of-nostalgia"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2094,2055/9554_The_Spine_Of_Night_Filmmaker_Morgan_Galen_King.rev.1615991868.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2094,2055/9554_The_Spine_Of_Night_Filmmaker_Morgan_Galen_King.rev.1615991868.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2094,2055/9554_The_Spine_Of_Night_Filmmaker_Morgan_Galen_King.rev.1615991868.webp 3x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2094,2055/9554_The_Spine_Of_Night_Filmmaker_Morgan_Galen_King.rev.1615991868.jpg 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2094,2055/9554_The_Spine_Of_Night_Filmmaker_Morgan_Galen_King.rev.1615991868.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2094,2055/9554_The_Spine_Of_Night_Filmmaker_Morgan_Galen_King.rev.1615991868.jpg 3x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2094,2055/9554_The_Spine_Of_Night_Filmmaker_Morgan_Galen_King.rev.1615991868.jpg" alt="Morgan Galen King, E&H Class of 2001" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2094,2055/9554_The_Spine_Of_Night_Filmmaker_Morgan_Galen_King.rev.1615991868.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2094,2055/9554_The_Spine_Of_Night_Filmmaker_Morgan_Galen_King.rev.1615991868.jpg 3x" data-max-w="2094" data-max-h="2055" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1679-the-trap-of-nostalgia">“The Trap of Nostalgia”</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Morgan King’s new full-length animated feature is a throw-back to a popular 1980’s classic, but he was careful not to be limited by the past as he created something he wanted to stand up in the present. <a href="/live/news/1679-the-trap-of-nostalgia" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1339-got-a-minute-read-about-mike-d-before-his"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/24,0,286,261/8430_Specialty_Foods_Awards_2018.rev.1597171064.webp 1x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/24,0,286,261/8430_Specialty_Foods_Awards_2018.rev.1597171064.jpg 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/24,0,286,261/8430_Specialty_Foods_Awards_2018.rev.1597171064.jpg" alt="Mike De Los Santos, aka Mike D, E&H reClass of 2006" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="262" data-max-h="261" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1339-got-a-minute-read-about-mike-d-before-his">Got a Minute? Read about Mike D before his television debut!</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Mike De Los Santos (E&H Reunion Class of 2006) will be featured in a Discovery Channel reality show starting Aug. 18, 2020. <a href="/live/news/1339-got-a-minute-read-about-mike-d-before-his" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/899-eamphs-role-in-the-space-race"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,111,1200,1309/6557_Rusty_Young.rev.1563464303.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,111,1200,1309/6557_Rusty_Young.rev.1563464303.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,111,1200,1309/6557_Rusty_Young.rev.1563464303.webp 3x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,111,1200,1309/6557_Rusty_Young.rev.1563464303.jpg 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,111,1200,1309/6557_Rusty_Young.rev.1563464303.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,111,1200,1309/6557_Rusty_Young.rev.1563464303.jpg 3x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,111,1200,1309/6557_Rusty_Young.rev.1563464303.jpg" alt="Dr. Rusty Young, E&H Class of 1927. This E&H math and physics professor was the catalyst for many E&H alumni working at NASA ..." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,111,1200,1309/6557_Rusty_Young.rev.1563464303.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,111,1200,1309/6557_Rusty_Young.rev.1563464303.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1200" data-max-h="1198" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/899-eamphs-role-in-the-space-race">E&H’s Role in the Space Race</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> As the US celebrates the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, let’s remember our E&H alumni who were part of the success. <a href="/live/news/899-eamphs-role-in-the-space-race" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1856-joel-vaughan-publishes-book-about-his-hometown-of"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1296,1547/9875_image.rev.1622644196.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1296,1547/9875_image.rev.1622644196.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1296,1547/9875_image.rev.1622644196.webp 3x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1296,1547/9875_image.rev.1622644196.jpg 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1296,1547/9875_image.rev.1622644196.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1296,1547/9875_image.rev.1622644196.jpg 3x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1296,1547/9875_image.rev.1622644196.jpg" alt=" Joel Vaughan Emory & Henry Class of 1983 " width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1296,1547/9875_image.rev.1622644196.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1296,1547/9875_image.rev.1622644196.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1296" data-max-h="1547" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1856-joel-vaughan-publishes-book-about-his-hometown-of">Joel Vaughan Publishes Book About His Hometown of Fries, Virginia, on the Banks of the New River</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Joel Vaughan has just published a book about a little town in Virginia that is the source of one of Southwest Virginia’s most popular jokes. Fries, Virginia, is pronounced “freeze” – but the joke is, “It’s <em>freeze</em> in the winter and <em>fries</em> in the summer.” <a href="/live/news/1856-joel-vaughan-publishes-book-about-his-hometown-of" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1840-dr-laura-hainsworth-making-scientific-observations"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/88,90,453,454/9841_laura_Hainsworth.rev.1620315838.webp 1x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/88,90,453,454/9841_laura_Hainsworth.rev.1620315838.jpg 1x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/88,90,453,454/9841_laura_Hainsworth.rev.1620315838.jpg" alt="Dr. Laura Hainsworth, Emory & Henry Chemistry and Environmental Studies Professor and Director of the Bartlett-Crowe Field Station" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="365" data-max-h="364" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1840-dr-laura-hainsworth-making-scientific-observations">Dr. Laura Hainsworth: Making Scientific Observations “on the Farm”</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Emory & Henry’s Dr. Laura Hainsworth doesn’t agree with John Denver on one important point: life on the farm is anything but laid back. <a href="/live/news/1840-dr-laura-hainsworth-making-scientific-observations" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2616-bonnie-widener-wood-is-doing-more-than-winning"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/46,0,779,733/12618_Bonnie_DC_background.rev.1667415962.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/46,0,779,733/12618_Bonnie_DC_background.rev.1667415962.webp 2x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/46,0,779,733/12618_Bonnie_DC_background.rev.1667415962.jpg 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/46,0,779,733/12618_Bonnie_DC_background.rev.1667415962.jpg 2x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/46,0,779,733/12618_Bonnie_DC_background.rev.1667415962.jpg" alt="Bonnie Widener Wood E&H Class of 1990" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/46,0,779,733/12618_Bonnie_DC_background.rev.1667415962.jpg 2x" data-max-w="733" data-max-h="733" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2616-bonnie-widener-wood-is-doing-more-than-winning">Bonnie Widener Wood Is Doing More Than Winning Awards: She’s Making a Difference</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><span style="font-weight: 400;">How does a woman end up with 5 Emmy awards? Well, it starts with a cattle truck.</span> <a href="/live/news/2616-bonnie-widener-wood-is-doing-more-than-winning" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1035-eamph-vs-wampl-far-from-ordinary"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/188,188,1638,1638/7057_score.rev.1571769042.webp 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/188,188,1638,1638/7057_score.rev.1571769042.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/188,188,1638,1638/7057_score.rev.1571769042.webp 3x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/188,188,1638,1638/7057_score.rev.1571769042.jpg 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/188,188,1638,1638/7057_score.rev.1571769042.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/188,188,1638,1638/7057_score.rev.1571769042.jpg 3x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/188,188,1638,1638/7057_score.rev.1571769042.jpg" alt="Oct. 19, 2019, Emory & Henry's Max Yates catches a Hail, Mary pass to win the game against Washington and Lee." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/188,188,1638,1638/7057_score.rev.1571769042.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/188,188,1638,1638/7057_score.rev.1571769042.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1450" data-max-h="1450" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1035-eamph-vs-wampl-far-from-ordinary">E&H vs. W&L: Far from ordinary</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Saturday’s win over Washington and Lee brought back a lot of memories of  W&L games gone by. Here are a few of our favorites. <a href="/live/news/1035-eamph-vs-wampl-far-from-ordinary" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/1674-the-doctor-is-inand-very-busy"><picture class="lw_image"> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,435,2400,2835/9516_IMG-0197_1.rev.1615335532.JPG 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,435,2400,2835/9516_IMG-0197_1.rev.1615335532.JPG 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,435,2400,2835/9516_IMG-0197_1.rev.1615335532.JPG 3x"/> <source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,435,2400,2835/9516_IMG-0197_1.rev.1615335532.JPG 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,435,2400,2835/9516_IMG-0197_1.rev.1615335532.JPG 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,435,2400,2835/9516_IMG-0197_1.rev.1615335532.JPG 3x"/> <source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,435,2400,2835/9516_IMG-0197_1.rev.1615335532.JPG 1x, /live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,435,2400,2835/9516_IMG-0197_1.rev.1615335532.JPG 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,435,2400,2835/9516_IMG-0197_1.rev.1615335532.JPG 3x"/> <img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,435,2400,2835/9516_IMG-0197_1.rev.1615335532.JPG" alt="Dr. Erin Griffin, E&H Class of 2013, with Ash - the office cat who decided he no longer wanted to be feral." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,435,2400,2835/9516_IMG-0197_1.rev.1615335532.JPG 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,435,2400,2835/9516_IMG-0197_1.rev.1615335532.JPG 3x" data-max-w="2400" data-max-h="2400" loading="lazy"/> </picture> </a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/1674-the-doctor-is-inand-very-busy">The Doctor is IN…and Very Busy!</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"> Dr. Erin Griffin (E&H 2013) figured out how to parlay a double major in music and chemistry into a brand new animal clinic she just opened. And she already has a full house of four-legged clients. <a href="/live/news/1674-the-doctor-is-inand-very-busy" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>