Those Who Let Nothing Stand in Their Way

Published on 13 February 2018

In the early 1950s, after talks between the Mound City Pharmacists Association and Arthur Schlicting, dean of St. Louis College of Pharmacy, three students were admitted to the College that would pave the way for students of color in pharmacy education as well as the profession.

Richard Crumble, B.S. ’56, Thomas J. Williams III, B.S. ’56, and Thomas Jones, B.S. ’56, were the first African-American graduates of St Louis College of Pharmacy. Soon after, the College’s first female African-American graduates, Doris Griswold Bryson, B.S. ’57, Margaret Brown, B.S. ’57, and Ve Ella Graham, B.S. ’57, received their degrees.

A few years later, Charles Banks, B.S. ’58, M.S. ’60; Lee Lanier, B.S. ’58; Lloyd Logan, B.S. ’58; and Curtis Young, B.S. ’58, M.S. ’60, would follow in their footsteps. These students arrived on campus during an especially divisive time. During the mid-1950s, the Central West End was one of several communities in St. Louis County known as a “sundown” community, meaning African-Americans were not welcome in the area after dark.

With only each other to lean on, the four men became close friends, quizzing each other, playing cards and shooting pool in their spare time. As these students searched to find a sense of belonging on campus, it was the College’s faculty and staff that offered solace.

After the war, many colleges and universities acquired lab equipment from the government to support their science programs. Logan’s natural affinity for fixing lab equipment was noticed by Arthur “Art” Zimmer, Ph.D., professor of chemistry, and he remembers fondly working alongside the chemist throughout his time at the College.

R.E. Dietschold, professor of pharmacy administration and the College’s accountant, was another faculty member that made an impression on these four students. At the time, students were barred from taking their exams if their tuition was not paid in full. Desperately wanting to take their exams, the four went to class even though their tuition was not yet fully paid. Dietschold passed the students in class, but didn’t say a word. After collecting their exams, Dietschold met with the students and offered them the option to pay their tuition bills on informal installment plans, a simple gesture that made all the difference.

After graduation, Logan went on to work at Saint Louis University Hospital, while Banks, Lanier and Young pursued and earned master’s degrees. Though Banks eventually settled in California, he would go on to be the first African-American Board of Trustees member.

To be the first is not always easy, but the College is indebted to these trailblazers who were so committed to pharmacy that they let nothing get in their way.

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