(Click on names for bio and videos)
This oral history project is an evolving historical record. Additional participants in this project are needed in order to contribute to the legacy of African American history at Villanova. If you are interested or know someone who might be interested in submitting an interview as part of this project, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Materials, documents, and photographs are also needed for the website. If you have any materials to donate, please use the contact information above. Photographs and other materials can be scanned and returned to the original owner.
The Black Villanova Oral History Project interviews were used extensively as part of the research for the dissertation entitled The Limits to Catholic Racial Liberalism: The Villanova Encounter with Race, 1940-1985.
In examining the process of desegregation, this dissertation makes two arguments. The first argument concerns the rise and fall of Catholic racial liberalism. In early post-World War II era, Catholic racial liberalism at Villanova was consolidated when the philosophy of Catholic interracialism combined with the emerging postwar racial liberalism. This ideology promoted the ideals of an equitable society where everyone had equal rights but it did so with a specific appeal to Christian morality. Catholic racial liberalism held that segregation, let alone racism and discrimination, was a sin. Therefore, Catholic racial liberals possessed an unshakeable faith in the ideal of integration. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Villanova adhered to the ideal of integration as the number of African American students increased. Indeed, a consensus of Catholic racial liberalism prevailed on campus. As the civil rights movement began to demand more of white Americans throughout the 1960s, the consensus of Catholic racial liberalism began to weaken as white Villanovans expressed racial anxieties. In the late 1960s, when black Villanova students adopted a position of Black Power and threatened to change the campus culture, the orthodoxy of Catholic racial liberalism was shattered. At Villanova, the 1970s were marked by the struggle to increase minority enrollment. These efforts represented a last desperate attempt by racial liberals to keep alive the civil rights movement’s promise of integration. Finally, during the 1980s, as affirmative action programs based on race in higher education came under fire, Catholic racial liberalism was replaced by the ideology of diversity. Therefore, I argue that the rise and fall of Catholic racial liberalism on Villanova’s campus demonstrated both the possibilities and the limits to this philosophy. Furthermore, the process of the desegregation of Villanova’s campus in the postwar period serves, then, as a microcosm for understanding the larger failure of integration in the United States.
Second, despite Villanova’s adoption of Catholic racial liberalism, meaningful integration proved elusive. The administration’s inconsistent efforts to recruit and to include African American students on campus during this time period demonstrated that they were often times unwilling to transform the campus culture to further the goals of the black freedom movement. Indeed, most white Villanovans, students and administrators, expected African Americans to simply be grateful for the chance to be at Villanova. This, of course, left black students on a campus that was desegregated but integrated in only the thinnest and least meaningful sense of the word. Integration is more than the absence of segregation, yet throughout the period of this study most black Villanova students felt the sting of segregation on campus. In place of integration, Villanova University adopted a paradigm of “acceptance without inclusion” with regard to African American students on campus.
In tracing the limits to Catholic racial liberalism and the failure of integration, this research highlights the experiences of historical actors who have not appeared in the previous studies of Catholic higher education – black students. The investigation of the experiences of African American Villanova students reveals a story about race and Catholic higher education that moves the focus away from abstract commitments to racial equality and places it on the men and women who experienced the disparity between public pronouncements and day-to-day practice. To be sure, black Villanova students were not simply pawns in the social drama of desegregation. As such, the narrative examines how black Villanova students, by their presence and their activism, challenged the racial status quo and how white Villanova students and administrators responded to these challenges.
The way in which we describe and find meaning in the struggle for integration on Villanova’s campus has significant implications for race relations today. This study suggests that the focus on the liberal goal of integration on Villanova’s campus obscured the real problems of race and inclusion which were raised by black students. The history of the struggle to integrate was not one of continuous progress; indeed, it was full of starts, stops and missteps. The Villanova story illustrates just how difficult the vexed process of integration can be in modern American society.
Yet, this study provides hope. The hidden history of the desegregation of Villanova can become a powerful weapon in the hands of those who seek to make Catholic universities more welcoming and just places. Indeed, only a university that understands and acknowledges its past can move forward. Today, this is as important in Catholic higher education as it is in American society.
To read the full dissertation, click here to download file:
Black Villanova: An Oral History was launched October 2011 at a reception during Villanova's annual Homecoming festivities. Interviews with alumni have subsequently been conducted in Florida, New York City and on the campus of Villanova University. The project's website was unveiled at the "Back and Black: Celebration of the African American Experience at Villanova" event on October 27, 2012. This event brought back to Villanova's campus many participants of the project to re-unite and to re-connect with each other and with their alma mater.
Every attempt has been made to ensure the historical accuracy of the events described in the interviews and in the accompanying documents. The possibility exists that there may be errors and ommissions.
Villanova alum George Raveling has recently been given two major awards for his distinguished career in college basketball and in the sports business world.
On Thursday, November 21, 2013, Raveling received the Lapchick Character Award at the New York Athletic Club in New York City. The Lapchick Awards are named for former Knicks and St. John's coach Joe Lapchick and recognize people from the basketball community who have demonstrated outstanding character. Past winners include Lou Carnesecca, Dean Smith, John Thompson, Pat Summitt, Bob Hurley Sr. and Jack Curran.
For more on this award, click here.
On September 7, 2013, Raveling was presented the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award during the 2013 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame ceremonies. The Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award was instituted by the Board of Trustees of the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1973 and is the most prestigious award presented by the Hall of Fame outside of Enshrinement. Named in honor of Hall of Famer John W. Bunn (Class of 1964), the first chairman of the Basketball Hall of Fame Committee who served from 1949-1964, the award honors coaches, players and contributors whose outstanding accomplishments have impacted the high school, college, professional or International game.
To see the video of George Raveling's acceptance speech, see below:
Jim McIntosh passed away on June 29, 2013 after a long and courageous battle with prostate cancer. Below is the obituary that appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News on September 12, 2013. For more on Jim's life and to see video exceprts from his oral history interview, please click on his name in the left sidebar.
JIM McINTOSH had a good day.
Jim, a onetime Villanova basketball star, was an FBI agent who lectured sports teams, local and national, pro and amateur, on the dangers of illegal drugs.
On this day in the summer of '86, he had a chance to reach athletes younger than he was used to, speaking at a basketball camp at St. Joseph's University for kids 9 to 17.
After his talk, a 10-year-old boy came up and asked, "If somebody comes up to you asking for help who's on drugs, will he be put in jail or given help?"
Jim told him he would be given help. Then a 14-year-old boy came up and told him how much he had enjoyed the talk.
With a broad smile, Jim said, "That's what it's all about. Two more. Two chances. I can leave here knowing that we've cut at least two individuals out of the marketplace."
James A. McIntosh, a 6-foot-7 basketball standout at Villanova University, where he taught English before entering the FBI, died June 29 of prostate cancer. He was 67 and lived in Sarasota, Fla.
Jim served as press liaison for the FBI in Philadelphia before he began lecturing athletes on the evils of drugs.
Phil Martelli, St. Joe's head basketball coach who was an assistant coach in the '80s and ran the camp, invited Jim to speak with the boys because he had heard Jim talk with the Hawks' varsity on the same subject a year before.
"What we're trying to do is reduce the drug demand," Jim said at the time. "Reducing the demand is just one way of fighting it."
Jim, who conducted drug seminars for almost every team in the NFL and NBA, as well as college teams, had rarely had a chance to talk with younger athletes.
"Bum Phillips once told me, 'Hey, why can't you guys get to the grade-school level, because I'm getting a bum product by the time they get up here,' " Jim said, quoting the retired Houston Oilers coach.
Jim said the idea is to get to the kids "before the pushers do."
Jim grew up in Holmesburg, the son of James and Cynthia McIntosh. He once told an interviewer that about age 10, he decided he wanted to attend Villanova University and become an FBI agent.
As the center for the Villanova basketball team, he helped lead the team to two National Invitation Tournaments and one NCAA tournament.
He was pursuing a master's degree at Villanova when he received his appointment to the FBI.
Jim joined the FBI on July 6, 1970, and retired on Sept. 30, 2002. He spent 25 years of that time with the Philadelphia division.
He came to Philadelphia after assignments in Detroit and New York City, where he worked in organized-crime investigations often as an undercover agent. He was involved in the investigations of the notorious Frank Lucas and Nicky Barnes, legendary Harlem drug dealers, among other high-profile cases.
Among his honors, Jim received the FBI's Medal of Valor.
"He was very charismatic," said Robert Bazin, retired FBI agent who specialized in finding stolen art treasures. "He was well-known and highly respected in the city."
Jim is survived by his wife, Carolyn.
Hardge Davis, Jr. graduated from Villanova in 1970 and was a founding member of the Black Student League. Hardge was also a member of the track and field team where he was a standout quarter-mile sprinter from 1966-1970. He won three NCAA championships, five Penn Relays Championship of America titles, and six IC4A crowns. His list of championships included:
3 x NCAA Mile Relay champion (1968i, 1968, 1970)
3 x Penn Relays Mile Relay champion (1968, 1969, 1970)
2 x Penn Relays Sprint Medley champion (1969, 1970)
5 x IC4A Mile Relay champion (1968i, 1968, 1969i, 1969, 1970)
1 x IC4A 440-yard Relay champion (1968)
After his graduation in 1970, Hardge went on to Seton Hall Law School, from which he earned his JD degree in 1977. He practiced law in New Jersey until his death. Davis also served his country as a member of the US Marine Corps Reserve.
Hardge Davis Jr., Esq., 65, made his transition on May 31, 2013. The celebration of his life will be held on Saturday at 11 a.m. at St. James A.M.E. Church, 588 Dr. Martin L. King Jr. Blvd., Newark, N.J. Visitation is Saturday from 9 a.m. until time of service at the church. Arrangements are by Whigham Funeral Home. Hardge was a resident of East Orange, N.J. He was a 1970 graduate of Villanova University with a bachelor of arts degree in economics and a 1977 graduate of Seton Hall University School of Law. A former partner of the law firm Brown-Robinson, Davis and Davis and Wearing, Esquires, in 1999 he became a sole legal practitioner in Newark and East Orange, N.J. Hardge was a U.S. Marine Reserve veteran. He was the beloved husband of Jacquelyn Rucker Davis, Esq.; devoted father of Selina Jewel Davis, M.D., and Solana Ardienne Davis; son of the late Hardge Sr. and Narsis Davis; dear brother of Margaret N. Johnson, Mollie Davis and the late Frank Davis; brother-in- law of Jill Rucker Simmons (Edwin Dudley Simmons) and Mark Rucker (Phyllis Rucker). He is also survived by a host of other relatives and friends. In lieu of flowers, please make donation to The United Negro College Fund, 8260 Willow Oaks Corporate Dr., Fairfax, Va. 22031 or www.uncf.org.
Former Villanova student-athlete George Leftwich '65 was recently featured in the Washington Post as he retired from his post as athletic director at Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington D.C.
Click below for video from the Back and Black Reunion at Villanova's 2012 Homecoming Celebration. The following are the approximate times where you can find the evening's various events and speeches:
Welcome by Dr. Terry Nance - 35:00
Invocation by Reverend Johnny Jones '69 - 39:00
Welcome and Special Presentation by Villanova President Father Peter Donohue - 1:26:00
Remarks on Black Villanova Oral History Project - Dr. Tom Mogan - 1:33:00
Reflections on the Project - Napoleon Andrews '73 - 1:54:00
Reflections on the Project - Normadene Troup '76 - 2:03:00
Reflections on the Project - Dr. Al Pride '72 - 2:06:00
Reflections on the Project - Bob Whitehead '70 -2:09:00
Spoken Word and Interpretative Dance - 2:17:00
Candle Ceremony - Black Cultural Society - 2:22:00
Villanova Gospel Ensemble - 2:28:00
Closing Prayer and Reflections - Pastor Ted Freeman, Jr. '72 - 2:54:00