Auburn University: A Perspective on History

Before arriving at Auburn, I knew little about its history. I was aware of individuals such as Hank Hartsfield, Jan Davis, Ken Mattingly, Kathryn Thorton, and James Voss but I knew little else about both the University and the town itself. Most of my experience with Auburn’s history has come through not only the astronauts above, but also through individuals such as Dr. James Hansen and Dr. Launius. These are two individuals I was familiar with before arriving on campus. Living in the middle of SEC territory myself, I was also familiar with Auburn’s football and baseball programs. As a former competitive gymnast, I was also aware of Auburn’s program’s success. Admittingly, in my several month stay in Auburn, I have rarely left my house. Because of this, I have not had the time to explore the town, or campus, which still leaves me unfamiliar with much of its history. What I do know about Auburn, I have learned through the classroom.

Through classes, I have became aware of Auburn’s dedication to the Lost Cause and preserving its role in the Civil War as well as Auburn’s past preservation of white supremacy. Through the 1960s, the University was hesitant to enroll African American students and when they did, the student body was highly segregated. Until recently, Auburn still, and arguably still does, have a reputation for catering to primarily wealthy and white individuals. In recent years, Auburn has been attempting to rededicate itself and diversify. Along with this, the University is being more open about its past and attempting, though they may just be surface level gestures, to make amends. While these gestures may be the first steps in a long marathon, it does bring some hope for the future.

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