Tuesday, March 19, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 111


 Eusan has legacy in AAS

AAS: Program faced controversy in its early days

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
overnight sensation.

"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
ignored it."

While many students tried to ignore it, the administration couldn't.
Locke, Allen and Eusan wouldn't allow it.

"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, which included
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
with it."

The University's opinion of the purpose and structure of the
program differed from that of Allen, Eusan and Locke.

"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 program.

"We met on Friday, then all day Saturday and Sunday," Mindiola
said. "It was concluded that a search would begin immediately for
a director."

The program wasn't the only demand the students sought.

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,"
Locke said.

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.

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