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"A Portent," F. Eugene Corbie

Cover of the issue of The Crisis that contains an article written by conference attendee F. Eugene Corbie.1



Bryn Mawr College did not admit Black students before 1926. Two years after the 1924 conference was held, Bryn Mawr President Marion Edwards Park discussed the subject with M. Carey Thomas, the former president and then director of the College. They concluded that they would permit Black students to attend, but only as non-residents. More detail about their correspondence is available on the "Black at Bryn Mawr" website.

The purpose of the 1924 student-organized conference was to convene Black and white students “with the hope that they may understand each other’s difficulties.”2 A three-day, three-session conference was held from April 11–13, 1924, in the town of Swarthmore, at the Woolman School. Each day, students led group discussions on predefined topics. The conference was co-organized by Bryn Mawr College's Liberal Club, Swarthmore College's Polity Club, and the Forum from the University of Pennsylvania. The Woolman School was a Quaker study and living center.3 The building is now a dorm, called Woolman House, located on the campus of Swarthmore College. The Quaker educational facility known at that time as Woolman School is now called Pendle Hill and is located in Wallingford, PA.

The first session was held on April 11, 1924 and addressed the question “What is the Negro problem?” The second session considered the issue “Is racial discrimination warranted, economically, legally, or socially?” The third session centered on the matter of “Amalgamation or segregation?” Among the conclusions reached at the conference, the delegates agreed that Black people should be permitted to enroll at all educational institutions and that those who attended the conference should raise awareness in their own circles.4  However, Bryn Mawr delegates believed that Black students would have a hard time socially at the College, therefore concluding it would be best if they did not apply.


1. The Crisis was the magazine of the NAACP, edited by W.E.B. Du Bois. Volumes from 1910-1922 are available at modjourn.org

2."Conference at Swarthmore to Discuss Negro Problem," The College News,April 9, 1924.

3."Intercollegiate Conference on Negro-White Relationship,"The Hilltop, April 19, 1924.

4. Corbie, F. Eugene, "A Portent,"The Crisis, July, 1924.

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