Florida State Celebrates Its Integration in a Monumental Way
Florida State University unveiled a larger-than-life bronze sculpture last month to pay tribute to the first African American students who integrated the university more than 40 years ago.
The sculpture, called “Integration,” was dedicated during the university’s Heritage Day celebration. It is located in the heart of the campus on the new Woodward Plaza.
“We commissioned this statue to recognize our past and celebrate our future,” said FSU President T.K. Wetherell. “Thanks to the courageous efforts of our first African American students, the student body looks different today than when I was a student here in the ’60s, and I’m proud of that. Part of what makes this university great is its rich diversity, and we are committed to ensuring a learning environment that reflects all of the people of our state.”
Alumni who graduated between 1964 and 1974 joined faculty, staff and students for the dedication ceremony. They also were invited to share their memories of this period of the university’s history for a video history project.
The statue, created by renowned sculptor W. Stanley “Sandy” Proctor, depicts three individuals who achieved goals of academic, athletic and social integration: Maxwell Courtney, the first African American to graduate from FSU; Fred Flowers, the first African American to wear an FSU athletic uniform; and Doby Flowers, FSU’s first African American homecoming princess. Crafted in detail, the figures are historically accurate representations of actual moments in time.
“I am humbled,” said Doby Flowers, who earned a bachelor’s degree in 1971 and a master’s in 1973 from FSU. “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 or art that is so grand and powerful.”
Doby Flowers later earned a certificate in executive management at Harvard University and is now a law firm manager and national consultant. Doby, and her brother Fred, are both now residents of Tallahassee.
Fred Flowers, who was a member of the baseball team and the university’s first African American athlete, said it was a privilege to have been part of the great tidal wave of social change that swept across America in the 1960s. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1969 and a master’s in 1973 from FSU and is now an attorney and partner at the law firm Flowers and White.
“As the first African American uniformed athlete at Florida State University, I walked onto an uneven field of social justice, and it was then that I realized I was not walking alone,” he said. “The integration statue stands for FSU’s valiant efforts to level the fields of opportunity and participation through the embracement of diversity. The university is to be commended.”
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