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Ernest Boger

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Material Information

Title:
Ernest Boger
Series Title:
USF 50th (2006) anniversary oral history project
Physical Description:
1 sound file (71 min.) : digital, MPEG4 file + ;
Language:
English
Creator:
Boger, Ernest P
Huse, Andrew T
University of South Florida Libraries -- Florida Studies Center. -- Oral History Program
University of South Florida -- Tampa Library
Publisher:
University of South Florida Tampa Library
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla
Publication Date:

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
College integration -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre:
Oral history   ( local )
Online audio   ( local )
Oral history.   ( local )
Online audio.   ( local )
interview   ( marcgt )

Notes

Summary:
Ernest Boger was the first black student to attend the university. He discusses his experiences on campus as a student, and as a black man. He also discusses his studies in psychology and Russian, as well as his extracurricular activities in music and basketball.
Venue:
Interview conducted December 5, 2003.
System Details:
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
System Details:
Streaming audio.
Statement of Responsibility:
interviewed by Andrew Huse.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 028931818
oclc - 232114022
usfldc doi - U23-00016
usfldc handle - u23.16
System ID:
SFS0024325:00001


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Full Text

PAGE 1

COPYRIGHT NOTICE This Oral History is copyrighted by the University of South Florida Libraries Oral History Program on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of South Florida. Copyright, 200 8 University of South Florida. All rights, reserved. T his oral history may be used for research, instruction, and private study under the provisions of the Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of the United States Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section 107), which allows limited use of copyrighted materials under certain conditions. Fair Use limits the amount of material that may be used. For all other permissions and requests, contact the UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA LIBRARIES ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at the University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Avenue, LIB 122, Tampa, FL 33620.

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1 USF Florida Studies Center Oral History Program USF 50 th History Anniversary Project Narrator: Ernest Boger Interviewer: Andrew Huse Date of Interview: December 2, 2003 Location of Interview: Tampa Current Position: Asst Professor/Director of Campus Library Hospitality Management Program at Abstractor: Jared G. Toney Bethune Cookman College Editor: Danielle E. Riley Final Editor: Jared G. Toney Date of Edit: February 18, 2004 TOPICS OF DISCUSSION Mr. Boger came t o USF as a student in 1961. He was the first black student at the university. What brought him to USF? He graduated from Blake High School in Tampa, and came to USF on recommendation of his assistant principal. He had written an editorial in the school pa per suggesting that students enroll at USF, though he had not really considered the option for himself, recalling, "Although I said we, I was not thinking of me ." He never forgot that, noting that the recommendation his assistant principal made to him "cha nged his whole life." Studies He began with the intention of studying chemistry and physics, in hopes of becoming a chemical engineer. As he explored the different courses though, particularly behavioral sciences, he began to see himself as "more of a pe ople person," and thus made the switch to psychology. "Then too, I didn't have such a great experience with Mr. Calculus either!" Before taking those early courses, he had never really recognized the study of behavior as a science. Once doing so, however, the transition seemed a more natural one. "It was a marriage made in heaven." Location It was important for him to be able to stay near home. The financial aspect made the decision that much easier to make, recalling that it was $112.50 "for all the cour ses that you could take!" "That's why I went strictly economics." The campus was relatively isolated and had few buildings at that point, he comments, in addition to a great deal of wild foliage and "a lot of sand!" "There was a certain freshness about it you could feel the university coming alive!" The student population at the time was fairly modest; in fact, Mr. Boger remembers that his student number was 2,000. Admission At the time, there were separate entrance exams for blacks and whites. Mr. B oger scored nearly perfectly on his exam (492/495), but "nobody was quite sure how to translate the

PAGE 3

2 black exam to the white exam." Administrators determined that he had sufficiently met the requirements though, and he was admitted to the University. He rec alls receiving a significant amount of attention in the media, but more so for being so involved at the University rather than solely because of the color of his skin. "I got a fair amount of coverage just for doing regular things." Academic experiences M ore influential than individual teachers, whom he has difficulty recalling, was the approach, which emphasized team learning. He met his requirements and graduated after three and a half years at the university, formally receiving his degree in 1965. Exp eriences as the first black student at USF He does not recall feeling particularly different in any specific way. He had an active student life, participating fully in college activities, noting that he "basically didn't think about it." As he remembers, h e experienced very few examples of "ugliness" as a black student at the university, aside from a couple inconsequential instances. "You basically look outward, so you have no idea that you look any different from anybody else as long as you are treated o k." He notes that he was coming to the school because it gave him an "economic advantage," not because he wanted to make a social statement. The experience was valuable because it gave him "an opportunity to compete in the white world giving me kind of a leg up." He thinks the key to a successful transition was the lack of established tradition at USF during that time, because of which he encountered little resistance. Urban demographics also fostered a community of multiculturalism, and "Tampa has been a melting pot for a long, long time, and that spirit flowed over onto the campus." Extracurricular activities Initially, his love of music drew him into the extracurricular programs here at USF. His involvement in the band helped him to make friends and establish a social link with people of similar interests, "so that made life very very comfortable." He was here when the school song was written, as well as when the bull was chosen as the school mascot. In the jazz band of which he was a part, they would play classics such as Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton, and other big band compositions popular to the time. One of his classmates went on to be the bassist on Roberta Flack's first album in the late 1960s. Although John Allen subordinated formal intercolleg iate sports to a preferred "accent on learning," there was still a very active intramural program on campus. Mr. Boger was recruited for the campus basketball team his first year, and his second year he became the team organizer, going on to win the league championship. He was also part of the Russian language club, being compelled by both international politics and the novelty of such a new experience for him. He was actually only one course short of having a Russian teaching minor. Living arrangements H e lived on campus during his junior year in order to take advantage of some of the financial aid opportunities that were made available to him. The other years he stayed at

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3 home and made the commute regularly. "Over the years I had six automobiles which means that they lasted about a semester each!" In instances where he could not depend on his own transportation, he would "hitch a ride" with one of the USF custodians who happen to live in his neighborhood; "It was an interesting experience in survival, s o to speak." Resident life at USF What he remembers most is the food, depending on the provision of regular meals in order to accommodate his rigorous schedule at the university. He found the dorms to be very convenient, providing him with a regulated env ironment in which to study. He does recall that while living in the dorms, they used to run comedy tapes across the intercom system, providing residents with a good laugh. Outside of campus life, he did "as much as any college student could afford," in cluding occasional concerts and restaurant dining. "The only place black students really felt comfortable were the restaurants in Ybor City," he recalls. The university restaurant was the preferred place to go among students, a forum that went through the process of racial integration during the 1960s. He recalls a particular night when he went to the restaurant with the band, the manager refused to serve him. One of the students proclaimed, "If they aren't going to serve Ernie here, we're not going to eat here," and they all moved on to another restaurant. The following day students and faculty began to picket the restaurant. Soon the process of integration was enforced, and such forums provided equal access to blacks and whites alike. After graduation De ferred from the draft while at USF, Mr. Boger later went on and served as an officer in the military following his graduation from the university. He was able to utilize his formal academic training while in the military, serving as a personal psychologist and chief mental testing officer. He worked a number of jobs following his discharge from the military, a time during which he returned to school and earned his MBA. End of Interview


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