Eusan has legacy
AAS: Program faced controversy in its
By Keenan Singleton
Daily Cougar Staff
Lynn Eusan never had a child. Never clutched
it so close to her
chest that they almost shared the same
heartbeat. Never got the
chance to look into the newborn's eyes
and get lost in its maze of
Although UH's first black Homecoming queen
never gave birth in
the traditional sense, she did become
the surrogate mother of UH's
African American Studies Program.
Founded in 1968, the current incarnation
of AAS offers courses in
history, English and anthropology with
an African-American slant,
grants scholarships and is active at UH
and in the surrounding
The program's gestation period, the fervor
of social change that
was the late 1960s, was met with more
clutched fists than open
hands. Getting the burgeoning program
a concert with the UH
administration was as easy as inserting
a wet noodle into a keyhole
for Eusan and her partners Gene Locke
and Dwight Allen.
"The University was not receptive at first,"
said Locke, now a
prominent attorney. "After two months
of political protest, the
University said 'Let's talk.'"
The process of integration in the nation's
schools wasn't an
"UH was legally integrated, but in all
other ways, it maintained an
equal but separate posture," said Locke.
"We didn't feel as though
we were a part of the University's fabric.
A few white students
accepted the program, some vehemently
opposed it, but most
While many students tried to ignore it,
the administration couldn't.
Locke, Allen and Eusan wouldn't allow
"Gene Locke, Dwight Allen and Lynn Eusan
were the three main
leaders at that time," said Tatcho Mindiola,
associate professor of
sociology and the director of Mexican-American
studies at UH.
"After they presented the administration
with a list of demands and
applied a lot of pressure, the administration
submitted and agreed
to form a committee to discuss the formation
of the program."
Mindiola, who was a student working on
his master's degree at the
time, was asked by the University to sit
on the committee that
would help mold the program. The committee,
Eusan, Allen and Locke, went to Galveston
to hammer out the
malleable details of the program.
"They put us up in a hotel," Mindiola said.
"There wasn't a lot of
fighting, but it was clear that some professors
wanted to piecemeal
the program into existence. But (Lynn)
and (Gene) wouldn't put up
The University's opinion of the purpose
and structure of the
program differed from that of Allen, Eusan
"The professors wanted to set it up differently
than Allen, Eusan
and Locke," Mindiola said. "They wanted
an interim director for a
year or (to) offer courses before the
starting program to see if
there was any interest."
After going back and forth on numerous
key points, the
administration granted the students the
"We met on Friday, then all day Saturday
and Sunday," Mindiola
said. "It was concluded that a search
would begin immediately for
The program wasn't the only demand the
They also wanted more scholarships for
minority students, more
African-American faculty, a black football
coach and a tutoring
program for inner-city kids, said Locke.
They wanted to help the
administration see UH in a new light.
"The focal point became the program and
it has become a lasting
demand, but it was no more important than
the other demands,"
Frank Anderson, director of the Challenger
program and a UH
alumnus, joined the program in the mid-'70s
and was quickly
absorbed into its goals.
"(Dwight) Allen showed his list of demands
and told the president
that they were non-negotiable," Anderson
said. "There would be no
compromise, and that was very necessary
because they were very
opposed to having the demands watered
down. I believe those
steadfast demands are one of the reasons
that the program is still
And while Eusan may not have a living,
breathing soul who has her
eyes to carry on part of her legacy, the
movement she, Gene Locke
and Dwight Allen started is a testament
that countless students
now have a piece of her mind.