Lula Morton Drewes '67
If we in the United States ever doubted whether race relations are still a tinderbox of emotions, our response to the events of the summer of 2013 confirmed it. Our collective reaction to the shooting of Trayvon Martin and the subsequent acquittal of George Zimmerman proved that we have a long way to go before we’re all living in “perfect harmony,” as the early 1970s advertising jingle promoted.
Add to this uneasiness the fact that the Supreme Court then struck down a portion of the Voting Rights Act, giving states unlimited power to implement changes in voting laws and practices. Some observers believe this action may again disenfranchise minority voters.
It’s sometimes hard to believe this was happening in 2013: 50 years since Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech; 50 years since Alabama Gov. George Wallace stood in the doorway, preventing two African American students from entering the University of Alabama; 50 years since President John F. Kennedy sent Congress his proposed Civil Rights Act.
It’s clear that we’re “still overcoming.”
And that’s the theme of a year-long program at Transylvania, Still Overcoming: Striving for Inclusiveness, which will center on our university’s efforts, and struggles, to embrace a more diverse campus community.
“Still Overcoming gives us an opportunity to focus on Transylvania’s history, as well as our country’s current issues,” said Eduardo Nino-Moreno, Transylvania’s former director of diversity and inclusion and coordinator of the Still Overcoming program. “In light of this summer’s events, many people are calling for dialog and understanding. A liberal arts college is uniquely equipped to foster that discussion. We hope to offer events that will enable the campus and the greater community to participate in such a discussion.”
This is also an anniversary for Transylvania. It was 50 years ago this fall that Transylvania University admitted its first African American student into the regular degree program. Lula B. Morton (now Drewes), a Lexington resident and graduate of Bryan Station High School, arrived on campus in 1963. Four years later she graduated with a degree in psychology. On Sept. 15, she came back to campus to give the keynote address for Still Overcoming. Photos | Video
During her talk, Drewes explained that for nearly 40 years she had assumed her Transylvania education had been funded by a university scholarship. Approximately 10 years ago, however, she learned that two Transylvania students who had graduated the spring before she arrived in 1963 were behind her successful matriculation.
Pat Molloy and Michael Mitchell, two Transylvania seniors, paved the way for desegregation on campus. Molloy paid for Drewes' education. Both men have gone on to distinguished careers and will be honored during Transylvania's commencement ceremonies May 24, 2014.
After the gentlemen were introduced, the three embraced warmly on stage.
Today Drewes is a clinical psychologist and licensed wellness coach living in Berlin, Germany, with extensive clinical, consulting, and teaching experience. She helps clients who are dealing with trauma or stress and specializes in women’s and multicultural/expatriate issues.
“Race is obviously still an issue in this country, and we want it to be the starting point for our conversation at Transylvania as we celebrate 50 years of desegregation,” said Nino-Moreno. “But we want to embrace the broadest possible definition of diversity as we look for ways to be more inclusive on our campus and in our wider interactions.”
Events throughout the academic year will include speakers, panel discussions, film screenings, performances, and student activities. Transylvania invites members of the central Kentucky community to participate in this public discussion. Schedule of events.