Description: Oral history.;Dr. J. Ralph Noonkester was born on June 10, 1924 in Flatridge, Virginia. In 1944, he received his BA in English and Sociology from the University of Richmond. He went on to compete ThM and PhD degrees at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Noonkester and his wife, Naomi Hopkins Noonkester, moved to Mississippi in the 1950s to begin a teaching position in Hattiesburg as Professor of Religion at Mississippi Woman's College, the predecessor to William Carey University. During his time here, Noonkester served as the Dean, and as the President from 1956 to 1989. In this position, he signed the Civil Rights Compliance Pledge in 1965, making William Carey one of the first private colleges in the South to voluntarily admit African American students. Noonkester recalls the intimidation he experienced following this decision. In addition to receiving hate letters from various institutions throughout the state, the Ku Klux Klan burned a cross in the front of his family property. Noonkester also served as president of the Hattiesburg Chamber of Commerce in 1966. During this time, he headed a community effort to rebuild the home of Vernon Dahmer, a civil rights leader who was killed when the Ku Klux Klan firebombed his home.
Creator: Noonkester, Ralph.; Walls, Garlinda.
Date: 13 December 2006
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