New Book Chronicles History of African American Students at Gustavus

Posted on August 22nd, 2012 by

Black and Bold by Bruce Gray ’61 will be available for purchase in the Book Mark in early September.

Bruce Gray ’61, former dean of students and associate in the advancement office at Gustavus Adolphus College, has written, with assistance from former president Dennis Johnson ’60, a personal memoir about the history of African American students at the College. Titled Black and Bold, the book features a forward by Gustavus alumnus and current Board of Trustee member Talmadge E. King Jr. ’70.

Gray chronicles President Edgar M. Carlson’s vision and plan for making the recruitment of blacks a centerpiece of Gustavus’s contribution to the civil rights struggles of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Gray takes readers from the small towns and cities of the South to the urban centers of the North, where he and former Admission Director Owen Sammelson ’58 convinced students of color to make the bold decision to come to a small liberal arts college in St. Peter, Minnesota.

This book, an important contribution to the sesquicentennial history of Gustavus, salutes those students while it tells of their trials, tribulations, and triumphs as they pursued their degrees. Through Gray, readers hear their voices and discover what the students accomplished once they left Gustavus.

The book is expected to be available for sale in the Book Mark by Sept. 1 for a price of $17.50.

About the Author

After earning his undergraduate degree from Gustavus in 1961, Gray began a 44-year career at the College when he was hired as an admissions representative in 1963. He is credited with formalizing the College’s program to recruit minority students and with helping to establish the Black Student Organization at the College which is now the Pan Afrikan Student Organization.

Bruce Gray ’61

During his time in the admission office, Gray established a working relationship with Paul Rucker, a high school guidance counselor in Quitman County, Mississippi. Through their partnership, Gustavus enrolled approximately 80 minority students on campus during the ‘60s and 70s.

In 1966 he accepted an assignment as financial aid director where he helped to successfully lobby the Minnesota State Legislature to establish the framework for what is now the Minnesota State Grant Program. After an 11-year stint as Dean of Students from 1975 to 1986, Gray joined the College’s institutional advancement staff as a senior development associate, becoming a national figure in the area of planned giving. Gray helped to develop a pioneering venture with Lutheran Brotherhood (now part of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans) that promoted a multi-million dollar Pooled Life Income Fund with Gustavus as the sole beneficiary. He was also instrumental in helping the College secure a $5.1 million gift from the Olin foundation to build, furnish, and landscape Olin Hall.

In 2004, Gray and his wife Sue created an endowed scholarship in their name to help students with financial need, with preference given to minority students.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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