Despite resistance to desegregation among some members of the Board of Trustees, two more African American women, Carrie Nesbitt and Angela Brown, enrolled in the College of Charleston during September 1967. Soon after, in November 1967, the College announced its new “Open Door Policy” for admissions, which accepted any residents from Charleston County with a high school diploma who had completed a specific slate of high school coursework. This policy, though race-neutral on the surface, was intended to attract local African American students. Eddie Ganaway joined Nesbitt and Brown in the spring semester of 1968, and he became the first African American to graduate from the College in 1971. It was during Ganaway’s junior year, in 1970, that the College of Charleston became a public institution again.
Though desegregation finally took place, racial dynamics on campus continued to reflect deep-seated problems. As one student pointed out in 1973, “The employment of the college is 50/50. The Black 50 percent, however, serve purposes such as cleaning, cooking, and low-maintenance positions.” Desegregation had done little to change the experiences of African Americans on campus, most of whom were workers in low-paying service jobs; and the students, faculty, and institutional culture remained overwhelmingly white.
Despite the intensely challenging terrain, Ganaway and other pioneering African American students organized the Afro-American Society and the first Black sorority and fraternity at the College. They also joined student government, sports teams, the literary magazine, and other campus organizations. The tenor of campus life began to change as the College hired African American professors, including Owilender Grant in 1972 and Eugene Hunt in 1973. The administration also invited speakers like the civil rights activist Julian Bond to deliver lectures on campus. Black students and faculty enriched classrooms and campus life, from establishing new student organizations to reshaping the campus culture and curriculum.