|Eureka College in 2011|
From the Bloomington Pantagraph:
Willie Sue Smith Stewart's connection to Eureka started well before she came for college in fall 1928 — the same year as Ronald Reagan.Two other blacks were part of that class, the most diverse at Eureka up to that point. The small college near Peoria was founded by abolitionists in 1855 and it is the second-oldest co-educational college in America.
Her parents — Harry and Lula Smith — passed through Eureka on their way to become missionaries to Africa when their daughter was only a toddler. She would go on to become the first black woman to graduate from Eureka College.
On Tuesday, her son and grandson visited the campus for the first time.
"I've head about Eureka my entire life," said her son, Harry Stewart. "She told me about carrying messages from Ronald Reagan to his then lady friend."
Dutch's son, Michael, told another story in 2011 about Reagan and race.
From Fox News:
During the Great Depression, dad played football for Coach Mac McKinzie at Eureka College in Illinois. During a game trip to a nearby Illinois college, the team was scheduled to stay in a hotel—but the hotel manager refused to give a room to Dad's two black teammates, William Franklin "Burgie" Burghardt and Jim Rattan.Related posts:
Coach McKinzie angrily replied that the entire team would sleep on the bus that night. Dad spoke up and offered an alternative: Why not send Burgie and Jim to the Reagan home in Dixon, just 15 miles away? Dad's parents, Jack and Nelle Reagan, would welcome his teammates—and the whole team would get a good night's rest.
In his autobiography, "An American Life," dad recalled, "We went to my house and I rang the bell and Nelle came to the door. . . . 'Well, come on in,' she said. . . . She was absolutely color-blind when it came to racial matters; these fellows were just two of my friends. That was the way she and Jack had always raised my brother and me."
Burgie was dad's best friend on the team—he played center and dad played guard—and he recalled the incident as well. Shortly after Dad's inauguration in 1981, liberal columnist Mark Shields interviewed Burgie, who was then a retired college professor. Burgie recounted the story exactly as Dad would later tell it in his book, including the warm welcome from Jack and Nelle Reagan.
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