Celebrating the first Black Tarleton Texans


Photo Courtesy of The Grassburr

Robyn Young being crowned as the 1993 Tarleton Homecoming Queen.

With Black History Month kicking off, we at The JTAC would like to take part in the month-long observation by recognizing the many historically black Tarleton Texans who paved the way for future generations.
Shirley Ann Thompson attended Tarleton State College in the Spring semester of 1965 and is believed to be the first african american student to attend the university. Unfortunately, not a lot of information is known about Thompson other than she was also a graduate from Stephenville High School. Something to note about this period was that Thompson’s enrollment was one year after the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Sherman Perry was a black student who transferred to Tarleton State College in 1967. He graduated from the college in 1969, and is believed to be the first black student to have graduated from Tarleton.
Hailing from Normangee, TX, Perry attended a junior college before transferring to Tarleton. According to the Tarleton State University Athletics Hall of Fame, Perry played on the Tarleton Basketball team from 1967 – 1969. In 1968, he was named team MVP and team captain, as he averaged 16.2 points per game. Following graduation, Perry began his career in coaching basketball while serving as a deacon in his local church.
Perry stuck close to Tarleton even after his undergraduate years. He eventually re-enrolled and was able to graduate with a Master’s degree at Tarleton in 1974. It is also believed that he was the first black student to graduate with a Master’s degree at Tarleton. With his degree in tow, Perry was hired into Tarleton’s Physical Education Department and joined the Basketball staff in 1976. He is believed to have retired in 1981, stepping down as Head Coach. His entry as a staff member marks him as the first black faculty member to be hired at Tarleton.
Dr. Zoala Hursey was a Black woman who was hired onto Tarleton’s Biology Department. She served as a professor from 1987 to 1988. While she may have only served for one year, Hursey is recognized as the first black female staff member at Tarleton.
Robyn Young was a black female English Major from Dallas, TX. At the 1993 Homecoming Celebration, Young was crowned the first black student to become Homecoming Queen. Young accomplished many things during her endeavors at Tarleton.“I am an ordinary student who has helped to pave the way for more minorities to make the same achievement in the future,” Young said, as documented in the 1994 edition of The Grassburr. “I believe it is a really high honor to be the first black Homecoming Queen and I appreciate the people who cared enough to vote for me.”
Roberick Richardson was a black man who attended Tarleton during the mid-1990’s. In 1995, Richardson served the Tarleton community as the Editor-in-Chief for The JTAC Student Newspaper and was the first black JTAC Editor-in-Chief. His first edition as Editor-in-Chief released on Feb 16, 1995, with his first article as such observing a proposal within Tarleton that would add fees to students undergoing internships or student teaching.
Alpha Phi Alpha was a Greek organization on the Tarleton Campus that was nationally chartered in Nov. 6, 1991 and became known as the first black Greek organization on the Tarleton campus. Alpha Phi Alpha was well known for being service-oriented, providing service to the Tarleton and the Stephenville community. The organization also hosted various Step Shows, where groups perform rhythmic routines using stepping, clapping, and chanting movements.
James King and Scott Warren III were two black Males who were among the spirited to form the Tarleton Plowboys in 1984. As some of the founding members, both King and Warren also stand as the first black Plowboys.
We would like to give a special thanks to the Lance Zimmerman Office of Student Involvement, Tradition, Spirit and Family Relations for spearheading the research that made this article possible.

Roberick Richardson the JTAC’s first black Editor-in-Chief at work in 1995. (Photo Courtesy of The Grassburr)