Thirty eight years ago, NCF staff Skip McDonald was honored as the first Black homecoming queen at Valdosta State (GA). The event made headlines in the local newspaper, mostly due to what happened at the homecoming basketball game that evening. Skip reflected on her experiences when she was invited to return to VSU to celebrate “An Evening with the Queen.”
I had no idea that my selection as Valdosta State's first Black homecoming queen in 1974 would shut down our school’s basketball game. Here is what happened after the homecoming parade.
Traditionally, as I knew it, the newly-crowned queen was recognized at the homecoming game. Halftime came and went and there was no public recognition. Okay, I thought, and kept enjoying the game. But my friends were not so quick to let it go. They said I had to be recognized. I said it was really okay if I wasn’t. We left the game and walked around while deciding what to do. The decision was made to walk onto the basketball court and stop the ballgame to have the queen acknowledged. I was scared to death and they had to practically carry me onto the court. All the while I’m thinking, “My mama is going to kill me.”
There was booing and trash thrown on the court while we stood there. The president of the school came over to ask what the problem was. One spokesman said, “You did not recognize the homecoming queen.” He proceeded to do so amidst the booing and some clapping. Two of the top basketball players came over, hugged and kissed me. We walked off the court and headed to my room. I was still thinking, “My mama is going to kill me for this. I might as well go ahead and call her because I am sure this will be on the news.”
When I called her, I was astounded at her response. She said, “If that is what you felt you needed to do, then okay.” Was this my mama on the other end of the phone? I wonder now what else was going through her mind. Did she have a flashback to when she wanted to attend VSC as a graduate student and could not because she was black? She was told she could work on her masters in a correspondence course, but could not attend the school in person. Sigh . . .
So, after the basketball incident, I was interviewed by the Valdosta Times newspaper. The caption read, “Skip Thinks this all Happened for a Very Special Reason.” I had forgotten that I was placed on probation, along with a few others, until I came across the newspaper article that I’d saved. Some professors who were once friendly towards me changed. I understood and just kept it moving. Thank God I did move forward and graduated from nursing school.
Skip’s enthusiastic spirit shines in this local TV news report of the recent celebration, “VSU Honors It’s First African-American Homecoming Queen.”
Read more about Skip McDonald on her blog.