Yearbook: Northeastern Louisiana State Chacahoula

Friday, September 11, 2020

Before the school was known as Univ. of Louisiana-Monroe it was called Northeastern Louisiana State. 

The Northeastern State yearbook has online offerings which seem to include a small selection of years: 1954 and then 1958 through 1977. Looking more closely at the site, there is searchable access to years: 1933 through 1977

There are some football pages therein,  if you care to do some digging. overall this is a good effort by the ULM archivist to get this collection of Chacahoula online.

One of the things you get a lot of the time in these annuals is an intentional bias in the sports reporting, in fact the reporting in yearbooks is so low stake, you have to expect a student bias toward their teams. 

Bias in reporting is there to be seen, and yearbooks do a great job of illustrating how American collegiate culture has changed through the years, school by school. One of the things that can be seen pretty clearly is some of the attitudes toward race not just in college admissions, but in terms of student life, participation on teams and access to diverse student groups. 

A comparison of the class pictures through the years can give us a simple idea about a school's diversity and attitudes toward race and sports are well documented elsewhere. Pay attention to the theme of segregation and see in what ways you might find evidence of a bifurcation of social spaces and ideals. 

One thing easily noticed in any school's yearbook collection is that just as sure as these institutions offered an avenue of higher learning - there have always been attitudes, some more common than others,  that have presented obstacles for a large selection of students and potential students, athletes and aspiring athletes. Time may have moved on and the names of the schools may even have been changed, but some of these attitudes and ideals have remained. Today, this mechanization of racism is no longer a mission of the college admissions office, but may still reside in local culture, in the behaviors of students and in the the makeup of the school's administration and student organizations.

Baseball 1958

NESCCheer 1958

 'Warbonnets' Cheer squad 1977

The point to be made is not that racism is evident in today's America, it's that there are a number of different levels of racism which effect citizens in different ways and at different times. Whereas an all white cheerleading squad seemed to be the ideal before Northeast Louisiana State's desegregation efforts, it wasn't until the 1970's when the first black cheerleader participated at ULM. 

Two members of the 'Ten little Indians' cheer team in 1975

Over time racial attitudes changed and the makeup of the student population shifted in accordance with more inclusive admissions policies. It is also important to iterate that some attitudes regarding racial (in)equality remained in place and is still active today. Sure, black inclusion in the cheerleading squad can be seen as progress, but what for if you're just going to spend your 4 years dressing up as a native American squaw?  As it played out, ULM didn't move to change their original "Indians" nickname until the NCAA cracked down on using native American imagery in college sports in 2007. 

I don't want to give the impression that this is the case only at Louisiana Monroe, this is most every traditional college and college town in the US. There is plenty of ULM history to be had with the Northeastern Louisiana State Chacahoula yearbook. 




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