Myrtle Glascoe


As remembered by Joyce Ladner
March 6, 2019

I am saddened to learn of Myrtle's transition. She was a beautiful person and a committed soldier in the freedom army. May she and John O'Neal tell each other some tall tales about the movement days when we were young, filled with optimism, hope, love, caring, generosity of spirit, courage, fly, ready to argue with a stop sign without provocation, members of the Emmett Till generation — I am so sad about their deaths — so sad.


As remembered by Jim Loewen
March 8, 2019

I shall here write my reminiscence of Myrtle Glascoe, whose death I mourn. I shall write it as accurately as possible, in keeping with the slogan of this site, because then our discussions are more honest and frank. I think Myrtle would want me to, and as you will see by the end, we parted as close friends/allies.

In about 1960, Dr. Ernst Borinski, famed professor of sociology at Tougaloo College, got a modest grant to start what he called the "Social Science Advancement Institute." Situated in a large corner room with beautiful windows in Beard Hall, it mostly consisted of a person hired by Dr. Borinski, who usually taught a course "Social Work and Social Welfare," or sometimes other courses, and who interacted with students in various creative ways.

Perhaps the first inhabitant of the position was John Salter, a.k.a. Hunter Bear, who became advisor to students in what became the Tougaloo chapter ("North Jackson") of the NAACP. He left Tougaloo at the end of the 1962-63 academic year. By 1968, David Barnum had replaced him. He left Tougaloo at the end of the 1968-69 academic year, I believe.

Then Dr. Borinski hired Myrtle Glascoe. She became a member of the Department of Sociology-Anthropology, which I had joined in the fall of 1968; almost surely she taught "Social Work and Social Welfare," among other things. I became chair of that department in the fall of 1969 or 1970. I was often complaining about bureaucratic foibles and obstacles at Tougaloo, and Myrtle jokingly called me Tougaloo's "Minister of Protest." The next year, Myrtle became a Muslim, and she also became anti-white, refusing to shake white people's hands or otherwise touch or be touched, and maintaining a coldness hard to penetrate. She was always professional, however, and very intelligent.

In about 1972, she left Tougaloo, to be replaced by Louise "Shani" Brooks, who stayed in the position until after I left Tougaloo in 1975.

I met Myrtle several more times, however. Our warmest encounter came in Columbia, SC, in 2005. The Unitarian/Universalist Churches of SC had invited me to speak publicly in Columbia and also to hold a race relations workshop for them. Myrtle and I had stayed in touch and I knew she lived in SC, so we got together after my workshop. I think she took me to the airport. Maybe we had lunch together first. At a certain point, she stopped the car in downtown Columbia and said, "I have been thinking about you and Dittmer and the Morses and others [white faculty members at Tougaloo] and I want to tell you, you folks not only talked the talk, you walked the walk."

Moved, I thanked her warmly. She then said, "I hope I didn't become too difficult to deal with?" I replied, "Well, it was hard when you wouldn't shake hands, and stuff." She immediately turned toward me in the car, put forth both hands, grabbed my right hand, and shook it, saying "Thank you." What a warm encounter! I passed it on to the Dittmers and Morses and Steve Rozman and others.

Then she taught at Gettysburg College, and we met a couple of times in Washington, DC, including once by chance (!) at the Library of Congress. I learned that she had become celebrated by students, including white students, because of her intense interest in reaching and teaching them. She promised to have me come up as a guest speaker at Gettysburg, but all too soon, I heard she had had a stroke. I tried to send her best wishes but don't know if they arrived.

People reading this ages hence, if any do, need to realize that even in institutions like Tougaloo College, filled with people dedicated to ending racism and to educating African Americans, race can still play a divisive role, and not just on the side of black folks. Whites at Tougaloo, myself included, played our white part in causing friction. Myrtle's story is ultimately one of the triumph of the human spirit over the ideas of division that can infect every institution. I shall light a candle for her at church this Sunday, and I salute her example.


As remembered by Phyllis Cunningham
March 9, 2019

Jim, I greatly appreciate your reminiscence of Myrtle. I have lost touch with her as I have with so many that I greatly admire. I recall Myrtle coming to meetings from Arkansas and she was wise, gentle, and inspiring. The world, a better place because of Myrtle.


As remembered by Muriel Tillinghast
March 9, 2019

I am so sorry to learn about Myrtle's passing. She and I were neighbors when we lived back to back on neighboring streets in Washington, D.C. So we knew of each other since our elementary school days. We were not close, but we worked on various things/projects/conditions intermittently and we were always in synch. Myrtle was kind and intensely committed, a gentle woman. She will be missed. The circle is broken. . . .


As remembered by SNCC Legacy Project (SLP)
March 12, 2019

The SNCC Legacy Project been informed that Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) veteran, Myrtle Glascoe, passed away Tuesday, March 5, 2019. Dr. Glascoe had been in declining health for some time, but remained strong in spirit and mind. As a member of the SNCC staff, she worked in West Point, Mississippi, and on the 1965 Arkansas Freedom Summer Project in West Helena, Arkansas.

Myrtle Glascoe was born in Washington, DC and graduated from Dunbar High School and received a bachelor's degree from Howard University. After leaving the South, she attended Harvard University and received a doctorate degree in education.

Myrtle became one of the early voices and pioneers in the Post-Civil Rights Black Museum Movement. She served as the first director of the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture of the College of Charleston, then spent a few years as a faculty member at Gettysburg College before retiring back in the Charleston area.

Myrtle Glascoe was an important leader in the areas of Black history and culture.


As remembered by Mike Miller
March 12, 2019

Myrtle was a special friend. We first met either in late 1962 or early 1963. She was a social worker on the staff of the San Francisco Family Services Agency. I was the SNCC rep in the Bay Area. I got her involved in Friends of SNCC, and then recruited her to go to Mississippi. She then joined the SNCC staff. At my 65th birthday party, she said, "Snick changed my life, and Mike got me into Snick."

We also dated for a while. And we remained friends.

She was a special person whose warmth radiated into every corner of whatever room she may have been in, no matter how large it was.


As remembered by Jolivette Anderson-Douoning
March 14, 2019

I met her at African and Native American Healing Ceremony at the Penn Center in South Carolina in the mid 90s. She was very kind to me. May she rest in power.


As remembered by Aldon Morris
March 14, 2019

I had the pleasure of meeting Myrtle when doing research on the civil rights movement in Boston. She was a close friend of a mutual friend, Dr. Walter Davis. Myrtle was a wonderful freedom loving person who was very kind and thoughtful. May she forever rest in peace.

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