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Integration Statue
by Tara L. Benton

This monument stands as a “celebration of hardships and successes of a group of young men and women with a vision” to make FSU a center of learning for all people.

Though the doctrine of “separate but equal” in public education was overturned in 1954, integration in post-secondary institutions in Florida did not immediately follow. 
In 1962, without the prompting of litigation, FSU changed  its policy and admitted African American students. Twelve African American science teachers enrolled in graduate science courses at Florida State University in the summer of 1962, becoming the first African American students at the university.  In the fall, FSU enrolled its first three full time African American students, two graduate students and one undergraduate.  The undergraduate student, Maxwell Courtney, became the first African American graduate of FSU in 1965.  Also in 1965, Fred Flowers enrolled in FSU.  He became the first African American to wear an FSU athletic uniform.  In 1970, FSU students elected the first African American Homecoming Queen, Doby Lee Flowers. 

In 2002, former Florida State University President Talbot D’Alemberte commissioned a monument to celebrate the efforts of students at FSU who pioneered integration in the 1960’s.  The funds for the monument were raised from private donations.  The bronze sculpture, which cost $350,000, was created by sculptor W. Stanley Proctor in 2003.  Proctor, a native Floridian, began sculpting in the 1980’s.  He is now a prize-winning and renowned sculptor, with works on display at the Florida Governor’s Mansion. 
integration statue

integration statue
The monument, titled “Integration,” was unveiled during the Heritage Day Celebration on January 30, 2004.  The monument consists of three figures standing approximately nine feet tall on a circular brick pedestal, and is based on the concept of “books, bats, and beauty.”  The first African American students at FSU faced a multitude of challenges in the efforts of integration of the university.  The students worked for integration in all aspects of campus life, including academic, athletic, and social.  The planners of the monument, including D’Alemberte, Doby Flowers, Proctor, and FSU officials, decided that the “books” element of the monument theme was best represented by Courtney, the first African American graduate; the “bats” element was best represented by Fred Flowers, the first African American athlete; and the “beauty” element was best represented by Doby Flowers, for the significant social achievement of becoming the first African American Homecoming Queen.  
Maxwell Courtney graduated Tallahassee’s Lincoln High in 1962. He attended FSU from 1962 through 1965, when he earned his B.A.  He is depicted in the monument holding an American History Book.    After FSU, he went on to consult for the Smithsonian Institution before his death in 1975.  

Fred H. Flowers entered FSU in 1965.  He earned his B.A. in 1969 and his M.S. in 1975.  He is depicted in the monument in his baseball uniform.  At his speech during the unveiling celebration, Flowers stated, “Florida State University stands alone as a shining light, as a beacon of diversity and multiculturalism.  This is what the statues represent.”  Flowers is a Tallahassee native, and has been a member of The Florida Bar since 1981.  He has a law practice in Tallahassee. 

Doby Lee Flowers attended FSU from 1967 through 1973, earning her B.S. and M.S. degrees.  Flowers was crowned Homecoming Queen in November 1970.  In the 1970-1971 Tally Ho Yearbook, she was quoted as saying, “In December, one month after I was elected, an official with the gifts from merchants finally got in touch with me.  She said she had been delayed because she couldn’t find out where I lived.  Not being awarded the homecoming trophy … not being asked to attend out of town football games, not being invited to participate in the gubernatorial inaugural parade – that’s what it’s like to be a black queen at FSU.”  At the unveiling of the Integration Statue in 2004, Ms. Flowers stated, “It is very rare that one gets to make a contribution on behalf of so many that will always be recalled in the annals of history. And, it is even rarer that the actions of young idealists are memorialized through such a public work of art that is so grand and powerful.”  Doby Flowers, Fred’s sister, is also a native Tallahasseean.  She has a career in law practice management and consulting. flowers
integration statue
These three individuals are representative of the many brave young idealists who fought for equality in education and in all aspects of life during the turbulent 1960’s.  The Integration monument is placed in Woodward Plaza, near Oglesby Union and at the end of the paved portion of Woodward at the main entrance to the University.  This prominent placement ensures that the students of today and the future are reminded of the journey their fellow FSU alumni undertook in demanding social, academic, and athletic equality, and should stand as a reminder of the importance of continuing in those efforts to indeed make FSU a center of learning for all people.

The unveiling of the monument did stir controversy among some Native Americans.  The FSU Homecoming Queen was adorned with a non-Seminole style Native-American headdress through the 1970’s.  Though the university no longer uses this headdress for the Homecoming Court, Doby Flowers was depicted as such in the sculpture.  Though the university consulted with the Seminole Tribe of Florida regarding the use of this headdress in the monument, other Seminole tribes objected.  President D’Alemberte stated that the figures were created as historically accurate representations of moments in time.
Photographs of Statue by Tara L. Benton

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