50 years have passed since Florida State University opened its doors to African American students. This important milestone might not receive the recognition it deserves because, unlike other Southern universities, Florida State's integration was achieved without violence or federal intervention.
The pioneering African American students who were admitted to Florida State in the 1960's were among the best and the brightest. They understood the hurdles before them, but heroically stepped up to the challenge in hopes of forging social change. Their talents, hard work and unwavering determination helped them achieve the ideal of total integration-academic, athletic and social assimilation into the university community.
Because of their courageous efforts, thousands of students of all races and ethnicities have made Florida State the great institution it is today.
The story of the integration movement at Florida State is one that should never slip from the pages of its history. Many young people today are unaware of the remarkable stories of the first cadre of students who had to challenge the system so they could receive equal opportunities to higher education.
50 years later, we invite you to explore this history, share in the experiences, and carry this legacy forward; For the stories of Yesterday define who we are Today and inspire us as we move into Tomorrow.
Doby & Fred Flowers with students
Two pioneers of integration at Florida State - Fred Flowers and his sister, Doby Flowers, center - pose with current students in front of the university's Integration statue.
The history of integration at Florida State University is immortalized in the Integration Statue, found at the heart of campus. Unveiled in 2004, this sculpture pays tribute to all those young men and women who helped make FSU rich in diversity. Created by renowned sculptor Sandy Proctor, Integration beautifully depicts Maxwell Courtney, the first African American to graduate from FSU; Fred Flowers, the first African American to wear a FSU athletic uniform; and Doby Flowers, Florida State's first African American homecoming princess.
Maxwell Courtney graduates cum laude in 1965.
Maxwell Courtney was the first African American to receive a bachelor's degree from Florida State University. A Tallahassee native and 1962 graduate of the original Lincoln High School, Maxwell enrolled at FSU during an era of intense racial hostility and segregation. He willingly put himself at risk so that those who came after him could attend the university without fear of discrimination and racial intolerance. Maxwell met an untimely death in a 1975 drowning accident. However, his legacy at Florida State will carry on forever.
Fred Flowers, also a Tallahassee native, entered FSU in 1965. He would go on to become member of the baseball team and Florida State's first African American athlete. He is depicted in the monument in his baseball uniform. He earned his B.A. in 1969 and his M.S. in 1975, and has been a member of The Florida Bar since 1981.
Doby Flowers in her Homecoming Headdress.
Doby Flowers followed in her brother Fred's footsteps and enrolled at Florida State in 1967. She earned her bachelor's degree in 1971 and a master's in 1973 from FSU. Doby's defining moment at the university, however, came in 1970 when she was elected FSU's first African American Homecoming Queen. "I am humbled," Doby Flowers said at the unveiling of the Integration Statue. "It is very rare that one gets to make a contribution on behalf of so many that will always be recalled in the annals of history. And, it is even rarer that the actions of young idealists are memorialized through such a public work of art that is so grand and powerful."
Maxwell Courtney, Fred Flowers, and Doby Flowers serve as symbols of the hundreds of African American students credited with helping to integrate Florida State University. As you explore this transformational part of Florida State's history, take a moment to read, watch and hear stories from many others, and even share some of your own.