1971: Ms. Twyla Brown

1971 Twyla Brown1971: Twyla Brown Creates a Home Away from Home for Students

Ms. Twyla Brown, student affairs staff secretary, earned the 1971 Capitolite dedication in which students wrote “…with her concern and kindness she converted that [student affairs] office into a ‘home’ away from home.”

From this dedication and other student publications, it’s clear that Ms. Brown was an active member of the campus community and beloved by students. She danced the Tarentella – a rapid whirling dance – in the Annual Amazing Talent Show, assisted with the Black Arts Festival, and served as the adviser for Sigma Delta Chi, a campus and community service club.

According to a student editorial in 1973, Brown lodged two formal complaints against the college for racism because she did not receive a “merit” raise in addition to the automatic pay increase for working at a certain classification for an extended period of time. Her supervisor said she did not do enough work to warrant a merit raise, but Brown countered that there wasn’t more work for her to do. This was a racist complaint, commented the student who wrote the editorial, because “the alleged racists do not give enough work to the plaintiff so that the alleged racists are no longer ‘required’ to give performance pay increases.”

The college, however, did not substantiate either complaint.

When the student reporter spoke with Brown about the incidents, she said, “Black goes all the way back. I’m not going to run anymore.” The student reporter was unable to give the quote additional context or analysis, but Brown’s complaint and this student’s editorial did generate dialogue and additional articles about racism in the United States.

Dr. Oliver LaGrone, a professor of art and African-American history, wrote a poem about Brown that the Capitolite published with her dedication in the 1971 issue:

For Our Twyla
By Oliver LaGrone

A Warm and Sunny Welcome
With a name that more rings true
In the many helpful and creative
Gifts she brings to me and you.

Eyes hands and heart in unity
That answers to the cause
Of counselor, of student friend
And acts of service without a pause.

So few we know who free of choice
As much for others do
Above the “calls of duty” – acts
To lead, unite, and follow through.

Such spirit inspires our gratitude –
Brings our esteem to your renown.
We dedicate This Capitolite:
Thanks and good wishes Twyla Brown…

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