Nicholls to Honor its 60th Anniversary of Integration

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Nicholls is set to host a dedication ceremony on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, to commemorate its 60th anniversary of integration. The event is set to take place at 3 p.m. on the front lawn of Picciola Hall.

In September of 1963, 21 Black students boldly integrated Nicholls campus, which had been segregated for 15 years since its inception, enduring hatred that might have otherwise deterred young Black people from seeking higher education opportunities. Despite opposition, they persisted toward their academic goals, removing barriers for future Black leaders, and although racial slurs were carved into the trunk of the oak, it could not uproot the peace they shared in this sanctuary.

A plaque with all 21 students’ names and two benches will be installed to commemorate the bench and oak tree near Elkins Hall, where the first Black students at Nicholls would gather to rest, escape the animosity and share laughter and light.

“It is truly an honor to join the Nicholls State University community in celebrating the momentous 60th anniversary of integration. This milestone reminds us of the courageous individuals who stood at the forefront of progress and shaped a more inclusive future for all. As we commemorate this pivotal moment in the University’s history, we recommit ourselves to fostering an environment where all students are welcomed, embraced, and supported with the opportunity to thrive,” said Dr. Michele Caruso, Nicholls vice president of Student Affairs.

“This commemoration ceremony is not a time to be sad and dwell on what got us here but a time of remembrance – a time to thank those who fought and paved the way for students who look like me to be here today. We have made it to 60 years, but we still have hundreds to go,” said Chalmette High School graduate and psychology pre-counseling major Timyra Cotton, Nicholls 60th anniversary of integration committee chair. “Working on this committee has been nothing short of amazing. It made me appreciate our administration more than ever before. To see everyone in the community and on campus come together to help a student bring a tiny vision to life just confirms that choosing Nicholls as my college was not only the right choice but the best choice.”

The plaque is funded by Nicholls Student Government Association, and the two benches set to be installed are sponsored by Thibodaux Regional Health System and Bayou Pearls. The Nicholls Foundation is still seeking sponsors for this event and for the student ceremony set to take place the next day. Any additional funds raised will go to campus events to enhance the students’ experiences and a closing ceremony in February 2024. Contact or call 985-448-4022 with any questions.