Press Notes: Soulful Bobcats Book Being Launched at Black Alumni Reunion

September 16, 2013

A new book published this month tells the personal stories of eighteen Ohio University black alumni who, enrolled as students during the 1950s, experienced campus life at the cusp of the Civil Rights era.

Their recollections, along with over 70 photographs and a historical essay (“Ohio University, Athens, and Race”), are included in Soulful Bobcats: Experiences of African American Students at Ohio University, 1950–1960. The book, published by 1804 Books, an imprint of Ohio University Press, will be available for sale at events at the Black Alumni Reunion, through local booksellers, and online at the Bobcat Store.

The idea for the book project came from the lead author, Carl Walker (BSED ’56). He and Betty Hollow, who contributed the historical background of Soulful Bobcats, spent about three years gathering material, writing, communicating with alumni, and drawing on materials from the Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections.

“This book of autobiographical sketches speaks of … dreams, of our collegiate experiences, and of our later accomplishments,” Walker writes in the preface. “It begins with an overview of race relations, attitudes, and mores, especially at Ohio University and in the town of Athens.”

Carl Walker, who has received the Distinguished Service Award from Ohio University, spearheaded the formation of the “Soulful Bobcats” to keep African American alumni from the 50s and 60s connected. The first Soulful Bobcat reunion was in 1991. One of those Soulful Bobcats includes President Roderick McDavis, who contributed a foreword to the book. Soulful Bobcats is dedicated to Dorothylou Sands and Howard Nolan, both contributors to the book.

Excerpts and photographs from Soulful Bobcats are being posted to Ohio University Press’s Facebook page in the week leading up to the Black Alumni Reunion. Books will be for sale on campus at BAR events, including an Authors@Alden talk with Carl Walker on Saturday, September 28th, from 1–3 p.m. All faculty, staff, students, and alumni are invited to listen, participate, and purchase a signed copy of the book.

Support for Soulful Bobcats was made possible by the Ohio University Office for Diversity and Inclusion, University College, and the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost. The 1804 Books imprint will publish books on Ohio University and its history.

Soulful Bobcats: Experiences of African American Students at Ohio University, 1950–1960

Alpha Phi Alpha members attending a Halloween party in costume (left to right): Dolly Mayle Thomas, Ronnie Dozier, Ricky Browner, and Etta Bailey Graham. 1957 Athena. Courtesy of the Mahn Center.