Highland Park College did admit people of color. Begrudgingly. One famous alumni, Archie Alexander, was admitted in 1907 to the engineering department. But male students protested when he wanted to join the football team. Professor Longwell, head of the school, decided that Archie didn’t belong. He sited that there just too many southern students, and he feared that if Archie stayed, the southern student
s wouldn’t. The editor of the Bystander, a colored paper, said of Longwell’s actions: “It is a blot upon our state a sham to civilization and outrage upon education, the very idea of closing the door of hope the door liberal education, the door of equal opportunity to a boy, because of color is ridiculous, and the utopian spirit of modern times should laugh this spirit into shame.”
Alexander took his gifts to the University of Iowa, where he became a star lineman and earned the nickname “Alexander the Great.” He became the second person of color to earn a degree from the University of Iowa. second black member on their football team. After graduation, Alexander went to work in Des Moines for several prestigious engineering firms. Later, under President Eisenhower, he would become governor of the Virgin Islands.
Not exactly one of Highland Park College’s greater moments.
“Highland Park Closed Against Negro.” Iowa State Bystander vol. 15, no. 15. 11 September 1908. (Accessed: 26 January 2014).
Longden, Tom. “Archie Alexander.” Des Moines Register Online. (Accessed: 26 January 2014).