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Stroughter set a precedent of excellence for the University of Dallas. Photo courtesy of the University of Dallas.

A woman of color in UD’s first graduating class

In the University of Dallas’s first graduating class of 1960, there was one woman of color graduating: Eloise Stroughter.

Eloise’s graduating class was under 40 students, and for the time in which she was living, it was quite the feat for Eloise to be one of them. Although the Brown v. Board of Education case officially declared segregation in schools to be unconstitutional in 1954, the laws of segregation that had pre- dominated the 1920s and 1930s still had a deep hold in southern institutions.

Schools were officially desegregated in the 1950s, but many schools in Texas did not truly start to desegregate until the 1960s and 1970s. Not much is known about Eloise Stroughter, but how she came to UD and what her experience here was like must have been quite the story indeed.

Eloise was married to Jessie Stroughter, who owned a restaurant called “The Green Parrot” with his brothers. Her son, Ira Stroughter, graduated from UD shortly after his mother in 1969. According to Ira’s obituary, he was raised Catholic at a small parish in Dallas.

Photo courtesy of the University of Dallas.

Eloise herself majored in secondary education at UD and pictures of her teaching at James Madison High School in Dallas can be found in UD’s very first yearbook.

Eloise Stroughter passed away on March 2, 2017, and her public obituary has been made into a collage of loving memories. Friends and family post pictures of her at dinner parties, in the classroom, and even meeting Nat King Cole. They testify to her teaching inside and outside of the classroom, sharing her love for literature, for people and for truth.

UD’s own alumna from its first graduating class defied the societal norms at the time in order to pursue an education. She graduated later in life than we generally expect in the present day, with her son graduating closely after her, but this evidently did not deprive her of having a powerful and lovely effect upon others.

Eloise Stroughter’s story might be unknown to us, but she has left an impressive and permanent mark on this institution.

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