ACU president apologizes for past racial discrimination; civil rights attorney Fred Gray formally accepts apology


For Immediate Release
Nov. 22, 1999

TERRELL, Texas - The simple act of asking forgiveness took on symbolic overtones Sunday afternoon when Dr. Royce Money, president of Abilene Christian University, stood before an auditorium filled with African-Americans to apologize for ACU's past discriminatory admissions policies.

Money's brief apology was presented during the 50th anniversary Founders' Day celebration at Southwestern Christian College in Terrell, a primarily two-year institution established specifically because African-Americans were excluded from most mainstream universities at the time.

Dr. Jack Evans Sr., president of SwCC, added Money to the agenda before his Founders' Day address.

"Just a few days ago, Dr. Money invited a number of us to the campus of ACU for a meeting to discuss oneness in Christ," Evans said. "We discussed one of the issues - racism - that has pervaded our society, the Church of Christ and even our Christian colleges. We talked very candidly about the past. Some of us were around in the 1950s when you could not attend Abilene Christian, David Lipscomb, Harding or other Christian schools because of race.

"During our conference, Dr. Money made an apology on behalf of ACU for past racial discrimination, and he said he would come here today and make the same apology on behalf of the university. The chairman of the ACU Board of Trustees, Don Crisp of Dallas, also is here today representing Abilene Christian. Please welcome Dr. Money."

Money began with these words: "Abilene Christian University has been a Christian institution of higher education for more than 90 years. Its doors were not open to African-American students for well over half that time. We are here today to confess the sins of racism and discrimination and to issue a formal apology to all of you, to express regret and to ask for your forgiveness.

"We understand from the Lord that part of repentance involves the resolve to go in a different direction from the past," Money continued. "But before we focus on the future, we need to confess the sins of racism and discrimination of the past against our African-American brothers and sisters. We are truly sorry."

During his remarks, several people shouted "Amen" and clapped. Dr. Andrew Hairston, an Atlanta, Ga., judge and member of the SwCC board, stood and hugged Money before he left the stage and the crowd gave him a standing ovation.

"The key word in Dr. Money's report is forgiveness," Evans said after the apology. "We must forgive. That's why we are called Christian colleges. We must exemplify the spirit of Christ."

In another symbolic and historic moment, SwCC president Dr. Jack Evans introduced well-known civil rights lawyer Fred Gray to accept the apology on behalf of the historically African-American college. Gray is the current chair of the SwCC Board of Directors.

"To President Money and the chairman of the Board of Trustees for Abilene Christian University … as one who has devoted all of my 45 years representing people such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King and desegregating institutions of higher learning in Alabama," Gray began. "I am delighted on behalf of the policy-making board of Southwestern Christian College that my brothers and sisters from Abilene Christian have taken this bold step. On behalf of Southwestern Christian, I genuinely accept it and look forward to a long and fruitful relationship."

Again the crowd clapped loudly. And in a final, related moment at the end of a two-hour event, Evans wife, Patricia O. Evans, introduced the special guests one last time, adding, "Dr. Money, you just thrilled my soul. That's just special."

The Moneys spent Sunday morning attending church services and enjoying lunch with the Evans.

"We were so warmly received here," Money said. "I believe God is moving among us to bring us spiritual unity. ACU wants to do everything we can to heal old hurts and to promote understanding and respect among all people."

The final words of his apology sum up what Money hopes the future holds: "We pledge to walk together with you as those in the body of Christ should always do. As Paul says in I Corinthians 12, we pray that 'there should be no division in the body, but its parts should have equal concern for each other.' ACU is dedicated to building up all the kingdom of God through service and leadership. May God help us in word and in deed to be spiritually 'one in Christ.' "

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Last update: Nov. 22, 1999
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