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Normadene Murphy - Class of 1976
Black Villanova Oral History Project

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Normadene Murphy

Class of 1976

 

 

 

 

Normadene Murphy was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA.

At her high school's college fair, Normadene recalls seeing Villanova's Ed Collymore sitting in a classroom all by himself and remembered feeling sorry for him. Curious, she struck up a conversation and found out that Villanova had a nursing program and, to her surprise, that you did not have to be Catholic to go there. Normadene was self-assured young woman and wanted to challenge herself by proving that she could succeed in the predominately white environment of Villanova. Therefore, Normadene accepted the challenge and decided to enroll at Villanova.

In this interview, Normadene recalls that her first impression of Villanova was that the campus environment felt "sterile." Normadene lived in Good Counsel Hall, the first residence hall for women, and remembered that all of her fellow black classmates had black roommates. Despite not feeling welcomed within the overall context of the University, Normadene indicates that the Black Student League embraced the new black students and welcomed them onto the campus.

After not feeling excited about dissecting a cat during a biology class, Normadene recognized that her interest was no longer in the medical field. She then switched her major to sociology where she found some supportive faculty members, including Dr. James McKenna. Despite these positive experiences in the sociology department, Normadene recalls several negative classroom experiences with faculty members whom she felt were less than helpful.  Normadene recalls a lack of black faculty members at the University at the time but she said black students flocked to any course taught by Claude Lewis. Lewis was a prominent Philadelphia journalist who occasionally taught courses at Villanova on urban issues.   

Prior to attending Villanova, Normadene worked with the Black Panther program in West Philadelphia and proudly sported her "Free Angela Davis" t-shirt on campus.

Normadene was involved in the Black Student League and fondly remembers the lounge in Austin Hallas providing a much-needed place for black students to hang out and be themselves. As the number of black women increased on campus, Normadene recalls a struggle between the men and women within the Black Student League. The women often felt as though their voices were not heard and the women of BSL organized themselves in protest. Normadene asserted that women of the BSL "went on strike" at one point, refusing to braid the men's hair or to type their papers.

At the commencement exercises in 1976, Normadene recalls the black students conspired to stage one last demonstration of the solidarity among black Villanovans. The black students in the College of Arts Sciences all lined up together and when it was time to line up they all rushed to the fron to the line so that they were the first 13 graduates lined up to receive their diploma.      

Normadene had a successful career with the Drug Enforcement Agency. She works now for Vanguard as a manager in the Retail Investors Group.

 

 

Murphy on Her Early Life Influences

In the opening segment of the interview, Murphy describes some of her early life influences which led her to pursue higher education.

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Murphy on Finding Out About Villanova

Murphy shares a humorous story about how she came to find out about Villanova.

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Murphy on Increasing Numbers of Black Students Entering in Fall of 1972

Murphy discusses her initial reactions to Villanova and to the increasing number of black students in the freshman class in 1972.

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Murphy on Life in Good Counsel Hall during her Freshman Year

Murphy describes life in the all-women's Good Counsel residence hall. She recalls an incident which upset the black students in the hall. 

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Murphy on Role Models in Black Life in the 1970s

In this segment, Murphy discusses some of the people who shaped her thinking on black culture in the early-mid 1970s.

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Murphy on the Black Women in the Black Student League

In this excerpt, Murphy describes the role of women in the Black Student League. She describes the actions taken by the women when they felt their voices were not being heard. 

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Murphy on the Parliament Funkadelic Concert Sponsored by BSL

Murphy on the Parliament Funkadelic concert at Villanova and how some administrators attended to show their support. 

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Murphy on Commencement Day in 1976

Murphy recalls the events of Commencement Day in 1976 where black students exhibited one last final show of solidarity.

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Murphy on Advice to Today's Villanova Students

Murphy shares some advice for today's college students, particularly those students of color at Villanova University.

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