Taylor Enrolls 70 Years Ago
PLAINVIEW – Annie Taylor made history 70 years ago, enrolling at Wayland Baptist College as the first black student to attend Wayland.
A Pioneer in her own right, Taylor was born in Washington, Texas, Sept. 26, 1901. She completed the 10th grade and took an examination to enroll as a sophomore in Sept. 1918 at Prairie View State Normal and Industrial College in Prairie View. She eventually earned her teaching degree in secondary education.
Taylor, who married Charlie Taylor on Feb. 28, 1926, moved to Floydada in 1925 to take a teaching position at the North Ward School that opened in January of 1926 with four students. She remained as the only teacher at the school until 1946. By 1951, the enrollment of the school had grown to 113 students. Taylor was teaching 5th and 6th grade reading and needed to take additional classes in elementary education to maintain her state teaching certification.
Taylor enrolled at Wayland in the summer of 1951 and took six hours of elementary education courses. At the age of 48, she was the first black student admitted to Wayland when Dr. James W. Marshall, president of Wayland from 1947-52, voluntarily opened Wayland’s doors to black students. Marshall viewed desegregation as an issue of democracy and basic Christian attitude and belief.
A 1951 article in Time Magazine stated:
“Mrs. Annie Taylor has spent half of her 48 years as a teacher in Floydada, Texas. … This year before she could qualify for a renewed contract, state law required that she go back to school herself for some courses in elementary education. And the most convenient place for Miss Annie to do her graduation work was Wayland College.”
Taylor retired in 1972 after teaching for 50 years. On May 7, 1972 the mayor of Floydada declared “Annie Taylor Day,” naming a city park in her honor. Reports of Taylor say she was “gentle, soft-spoken, kind, dynamic, cooperative and a person with a heart overflowing with love for people.”
Annie Taylor passed away in 1991.
For more information on Annie Taylor, visit the Floyd County Historical Museum in Floydada.
Compiled from the North Ward School records.