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Florida State University Celebrates its Integration in a Monumental Way

Courtesy of Florida State University

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"Integration," created by sculptor W. Stanley Proctor

On January 31, Florida State University unveiled a larger-than-life bronze sculpture 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, just south of Oglesby Union.

"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, beautifully 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 magnificent detail, the figures are historically accurate representations of actual moments in time.

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Renowned sculptor W. Stanley "Sandy" Proctor joins Doby Flowers, FSU's first African-American homecoming queen, at the dedication of "Integration"

"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 of art that is so grand and powerful."

Doby Flowers later earned a certificate in executive management from Harvard University and is now a law firm manager and national consultant. Doby and her brother, Fred, are natives of Tallahassee .

Fred Flowers, who as a member of the baseball team was the university's first African-American athlete, said it was a privilege to have been a 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 & 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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Fred Flowers is one of three individuals represented in the statue, which was commissioned to pay tribute to the university's first African-American students.

Maxwell Courtney, also a Tallahassee native, was admitted to FSU as the first African-American undergraduate student in 1962. He graduated cum laude in 1965 with a degree in mathematics and minors in French and English. Courtney later earned a master's degree from the University of Maryland and worked as a systems management consultant to the Smithsonian Institution before his death in 1975.

FSU commissioned the statue two years ago under the leadership of President Emeritus Talbot "Sandy" D'Alemberte. The monument serves as a permanent tribute to all young men and women who challenged the system and helped pave Florida State's pathway to diversity.

"The sculpture symbolically represents the historical events surrounding integration and the students and faculty who led this fight while continuing to illustrate the multiculturalism of the current student body," Proctor said. "My purpose was to champion the accomplishments of the students and faculty who led the fight for integration and create a sculpture with which current FSU students and alumni will be able to identify and appreciate."

For more information on Florida State University, visit www.fsu.edu.