February is Black History month, which spurred me to research into some of the Black History of my own university. There has been many inspirational students of color at the University of South Florida, and all began with one great man. In 1961, University of South Florida accepted their first black student to the university, Ernest Boger. Like many, Boger worked hard for his eventual acceptance to USF. He graduated valedictorian of his high school class and obtained an almost perfect score on his college entrance exam.
While at USF, Ernest Boger continued to be a great academic, as well as highly involved throughout USF activities, especially in the band. One thing that made me very proud to be a USF student is Boger's comments on his transition to USF. Though he did say it was difficult feeling like an outsider in comparison to everyone else, he felt accepted by many at college. However, the same could not be said about the community. For instance, Boger reflects on a time where his band mates and him went to a local restaurant, but the manager refused to serve Boger. As a reflection of true Bull culture, Boger's band mates along with other USF student protested the restaurant for days, until they were attacked as a result. I am so proud to be at a university that supports people of color, and immediately supported the only African American student at the university when he was confronted with outright discrimination.
Despite the discrimination and racism he faced, Boger continued his education at USF, graduating with a bachelor's degree in psychology. And then went on to get a doctorate! Reading about Ernest Boger makes me proud to continue his legacy as a African American student at USF. Especially in the presence of a racially charged society that still presents many limitations for African Americans in the work force, despite the education they worked hard to acquire.
Ernest Boger did not let discrimination halt his success, and neither will we.