Desegregation and Civil Rights
Washigton and Lee found itself in the middle of many of the era's struggles over civil rights, desegregation and integration. In 1961, the University Board of Trustees rescinded an invitation to have Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. speak on campus. Three years later, the Board implicitly approved desegregation. In 1966, the University admitted African-American students for the first time since the 18th century. Dennis Halston, the first African-American to join the undergraduate student body transferred after his first year. Walter Blake and Carl Linwood Smothers, who entered W&L as freshmen in 1968, would become the first black studnts to receive bachelor's degrees from the University.