Photo of Judge Ernest Fullwood in 1992
51 years ago, Marshall Collins and Ernest Fullwood were the first African Americans to attend Wilmington College--the institution that grew into the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW).
Fullwood became the first African American student to serve on the Wilmington College Student Senate, and in March of 1966 he was the first African American graduate. Fullwood became an attorney and judge, and Marshall Collins became a minister. Fullwood returned to UNCW on April 17, 2004 to administer the Chancellor's oath of office to Rosemary DePaolo at her installation.
Until September of 1962, African American students attended class at the Williston College campus of Wilmington College. Due to segregation, African American students were not allowed to enroll at the College Road campus.
On July 15, 1981, Dr. H. Eaton, chair of the Board of Trustees recalled a meeting he had with Dr. John T. Hoggard in 1961:
It has been 20 years and almost four months to the day since I sat in the parlor of Dr. John T. Hoggard, the Founder of this Institution, and expressed to him my disappointment and concern with the unfairness of the grossly unequal dual program of college education being provided for white students as compared to that being provided for Negro students ....
A gentlemen’s agreement was reached. With a handshake and no paperwork, Dr. Eaton and Dr. Hoggard agreed that Dr. Eaton would not pursue legal action against the College, and in return Wilmington College would begin admitting qualified African American students in September of 1962 (From These Beginnings: Wilmington College, 1946-1969).