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Bulletin Winter 2017 Vol. 8 No. 1

W I N T E R 2 0 1 7 9 but the painting is not overtly political. Rather, it asks us to reflect on the differences, for instance, between the men who work on the docks and the people who can pay to travel on a luxury liner. It asks us to consider the difference between the lives of the people who work with their hands and those with jobs in the skyline offices behind them across the river. Painted in 1912, it asks us to reflect on the inequality between the massive machines that dominated the age and the working animals that were still necessary in the early twentieth century. In the end, it is difficult when standing in front of the painting not to ask oneself where one stands in this skein of inequalities and whether one is fortunate or unfortunate, rich or poor. This is the kind of engagement that Miss Louise was seeking for her students. She was not looking for ways to help make them comfortable in their privilege. Nor, I think, did she mean to shape their political views in a particular direction. But I think we can say without a doubt is that she wanted to invent a new means of liberal arts education that would empower the women to shape independent lives. She wanted them to know what the issues of their day were and she wanted to give them the means to address those questions for themselves. Building a legacy Twenty-four years after Miss Louise died in December 1928, William F. Quillian, Jr. came to Lynchburg from Delaware, Ohio, to begin his work as the College’s fifth president. Quillian was not an academic administrator, but rather a professor of philosophy at Ohio Wesleyan University. Perhaps the two greatest qualifications he had for the job were that he was a Southerner by birth and upbringing, and he was a Methodist minister by vocation. Both aspects of his identity would serve him well. Quillian arrived at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College two years before Brown vs. Board of Education began the long and painful process of desegregation. Thus he was transplanted into the middle of one of our most difficult revolutions. He came to lead an excellent small woman’s college and ended up being called on to play a role in the abolition of Jim Crow. Quillian showed himself ready for hard work from the beginning. Although it was an extremely unpopular move with many students, alumnae, parents, and trustees, Quillian abolished sororities at the College in 1959. He believed that they played no good role in the life of the College and that they perpetuated hard feelings and exacerbated class divisions between the women. Behind the scenes, Quillian had by this time also started to work with others in Lynchburg, black and white, to try to “quietly” dismantle racial segregation. Before those efforts could reach fruition, however, Quillian was thrown into the “unquiet,” highly visible world of the public protests that helped define the Civil Rights Movement. On February 1, 1960, four young men in Greensboro, North Carolina, sat down at the lunch counter in a Woolworth’s store on Elm Street and asked for cups of coffee. As per the rules of the petty apartheid that we called Jim Crow, they were refused service. Thus began the first of “Liberal education would change and take on many new forms in the subsequent 2,300 years, but only in America did liberal education finally unfold as a vehicle to freedom rather than simply an education for people who already had freedom.”


Bulletin Winter 2017 Vol. 8 No. 1
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