Memphis State Eight

Memphis State Eight (HM1MIY)

Location: Memphis, TN 38111 Shelby County
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Country: United States of America
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N 35° 7.114', W 89° 56.246'

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In the fall of 1959 some 4,500 students enrolled at Memphis State University. Among them were eight African Americans, the first to break the University's color barrier. They were Bertha Mae Rogers (Looney), Rose Blakney (Love) and Marvis Kneeland (Jones), graduates of Hamilton High School; Luther McClellan and John Simpson from Manasssas High School; Ralph Prater and Eleanor Gandy from Douglas High School; and Sammie Burnett (Johnson) from Booker T. Washington High School. They became known as the "Memphis State Eight." Once on campus they were asked to avoid the cafeteria and student center. They were barred from taking physical education classes and ROTC. Police escorted them to their classes, all of which were scheduled for morning. The Eight were


required to leave the campus by noon. The University set aside special restrooms and lounges for them. Unlike at other schools, the Memphis Eight met with no physical violence. They were taunted by hecklers carrying Confederate flags. Most experienced a sense of isolation and sadness for having missed out on the youthful experiences and social functions enjoyed by other college students. Nevertheless, the Memphis State Eight persevered. These pioneers set Memphis State-now The University of Memphis-on a new path of equality, fairness and acceptance that has remained a hallmark of the University. In 2009 the University presented the Memphis State Eight with the Arthur S. Holman Lifetime Achievement Award.
Year Placed2012
Placed ByThe University of Memphis and Shelby County Historical Commission
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, August 5th, 2015 at 10:03am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)16S E 232301 N 3890141
Decimal Degrees35.11856667, -89.93743333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 35° 7.114', W 89° 56.246'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds35° 7' 6.84" N, 89° 56' 14.76" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)901
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 3720 Alumni Ave, Memphis TN 38111, US
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