Oberlin Black Alumni Celebrate The Legacy of 180 years at Oberlin College

On October 2-4, 2015 Oberlin College celebrates 180 years of Black enrollment!

As an Alumnus of ’74, the oldest (20 years) and a resident of Oberlin I view Oberlin College
from the other side of the Wall!

By all odds, I should have never been admitted to Oberlin but it was the element of the 70’s.
It was the emergence of the Community Colleges with focus of the poor and working class in education.
I was attending Cuyahoga College, a welfare mother with one son in college and a teen ager.
It was there that I met Albert (All) Wellington who we lost on January 24, 2012. He dared to come to a
community college to recruit a “welfare mother” to Oberlin College. I shall always remember his
closing question of the interview, “Well Ms. Christian, do you think you can make it at Oberlin?
I emphatically replied, “I know I can make it, we have always had libraries in the Ghettoes!
So on July ’72 my teenage son and I moved to Oberlin and stayed at an apartment next to the
First Church. I was quite the oddity on campus, a Black woman in her thirties, Afro hair, and clothing
with a militant attitude! It was no secret that most thought that I would not make it past the semester.
Al Wellington, Hal Payne, and Bill Smith never doubted my ability! I graduated from Oberlin College
And continued post study at Bowling Green and Toledo University.

As a student I experience the “openness” between the college and the town.” I was introduced to black
people in the town through black student attending the college. I met a woman named “Aunt GiG.”
a community activist; the Black students conducted “Shule” for children in the town; and during the
summer there was the Upward Bound Program.

As a resident of thirty-three years, I have watched all the “openness” disappeared. The earlier programs
have disappeared. There is a “No Trespassing” rule in effect at the college grounds and housing to
deter certain youths from the town! Those generation of African Americans who worked at the college;
who opened their homes for boarding and entertaining; that sang with them in their choirs are no more.
Many lost homes were disposing of through foreclosures in the last ten years. African American once was one-fourth population will never be again.
Once upon a time the town was as much a part of the Oberlin experience as the college.

By Margaret Christian

*The content expressed by the author of this blog is personal and does not represent the views of John Mercer Langston Home and Institute.*