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Rangers sent to Wiley College in response to student demonstrations

February
24
1969

On this day in 1969, approximately 100 Texas Rangers, local lawmen, and state police were dispatched to Wiley College, the oldest black college west of the Mississippi River, in response to a series of nonviolent student demonstrations on the Marshall campus. The students were demonstrating over faculty hiring practices, primitive dormitory facilities, and cutbacks in the intercollegiate athletic program. The lawmen undertook a massive search for concealed weapons in the dorms; the search was fruitless, but the school was closed down for several weeks. Further demonstrations resulted in the school administration's agreement in August to improve living conditions on campus. Wiley College was founded in 1873 and chartered in 1882. In 1907 Wiley received the first Carnegie college library west of the Mississippi. In 1962 Wiley and Bishop College students held sit-ins at the local Woolworth store. Their activities and the local reaction made national headlines. These demonstrations helped integrate public facilities in Marshall. In 2004, Wiley College had a student body of 552 and a faculty of 56, and Dr. Haywood Strickland was president.

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