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Abstract provided by interviewer Jessica Rice.

NICKERSON, Sherita Racial introspection and cultural gender expectations at Abilene Christian University in the early 2000s Key terms: Racism, Progression, racial organizations, black feminism, “Ring by Spring”, dissimilarities, cultural diversity, Christianity Sherita Nickerson attended Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas from 2000 to 2003 and received her Master’s in Youth and Family Ministry with an emphasis on Higher Education from the university from 2013 to 2015. ACU is well known for being one of the largest private institutions in the Southwest that offers innovative teaching methods in helping students obtain success within the global marketplace while also adhering to their deeply rooted John Campbell-like Christian values. However, Abilene Christian, like many other institutions littered throughout the south, was once previously segregated up until 1962, whenever Billy Curl became the first African American undergraduate student to register for the fall semester. Within this interview, Mrs. Nickerson describes her experience as a twenty-seven-year-old African American female within a predominantly young, white student body, in the hopes of receiving a higher education for herself. Seeing as she did not meet the “cultural ideal,” of being a meek, subservient, white woman who is looking for a husband, Mrs. Sherita Nickerson gives remarkable insight into how ACU utilizes societal norms in shaping an individual college student’s identity. She also delves into the apparent lack of diversity and cultural awareness that existed within ACU’s campus, until racially diverse clubs such as The Essence of Ebony and Virtuous Sisterhood were established to help fellow black students feel like they had a home at the university.
This interview provides primary source information on ACU’s history of racism, gendered social and cultural expectations as expressed in outward appearances and university student organizations, and demonstrates a religious influence over education, career outcomes, and perspectives on race interacting with society.


The ACC/ACU Gender and Sexuality Project preserves firsthand accounts of alumni of Abilene Christian College (later Abilene Christian University), with particular attention to how students, faculty, and staff have experienced issues of gender and sexuality during their time at the institution. The collection began in Fall 2019 as a class project in HIST 340, Historical Perspectives on Gender and Sexualities.