Marva E. Dates, class of 1957 and Karen E. Dates, class of 1986

Marva E. Dates, class of 1957 and Karen E. Dates, class of 1986

Marva E. Dates was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. She attended Booker T. Washington School and was a 1953 graduate of Frederick Douglass High School. She achieved a top academic record at Douglass and her high school principal, Dr. Ralph Reckling, encouraged her to apply to Pembroke College, the women’s college in Brown University, where she was accepted in 1953. She lived on campus while she pursued her American Civilization concentration. Marva graduated with her AB in 1957 and went on to earn her Master’s in Library and Information Science from Simmons College.

In this interview recorded as a result of the 2018 Black Alumni Reunion, Marva E. Dates, Pembroke College class of 1957, and her niece Karen E. Dates, Brown University class of 1986, share the similarities and differences of their times on campus.

Marva begins the interview by describing her life in Baltimore before Pembroke. She recalls the strict racial segregation of the city and schools as well as the lack of guidance for students interested in college. She goes on to say that there were very few students of color at Pembroke during her tenure there and that she did not intentionally seek any of them out to pursue Black friendships. She also fondly remembers living on campus and says that generally she felt welcomed by the students and staff.

Karen enters the conversation, explaining that Brown was already within her sights given that she had alumnae in her family. Unlike her aunt, both of Karen’s parents attended college and therefore continuing her education was expected. She recalls Third World Transition Week and being a member of the historically Black Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

Both interviewees share their best memories of Brown, which include their first arrival and student activities, as well as more challenging recollections such as the rigorous course work and yet lack of academic advising. They also discuss dating on campus and posture pictures. In terms of life after Pembroke and Brown, Marva explains getting her Master’s in Library and Information Science from Simmons College and working at the Boston Public Library and the Pratt Institute Library in Brooklyn, New York. Karen notes her graduate education in journalism from Columbia University and her work in youth development and education with the Maryland State Department of Education.

Karen concludes the interview by describing her time at the Black Alumni Reunion and both interviewees briefly discuss their involvement in the Women’s Movement and Civil Rights Movement on campus.

Recorded on Oct 27, 2018


Interviewed by Mary Murphy, Nancy L. Buc '65 Pembroke Center Archivist