Marilyn Kaemmerle, class of 1945, was a student at the College of William and Mary from Jackson, Michigan. Kaemmerle was editor of The Flat Hat in 1945 when her editorial on race relations, "Lincoln's Job Half-Done," 7 February 1945 sparked a controversy that garnered attention beyond campus. The Flat Hat was temporarily suspended and Kaemmerle was removed as editor.
Newspapers reported that "few of the students have expressed agreement with" Kaemmerle, but students did oppose a censored publication. Kaemmerle advocated the complete integration of African Americans into William and Mary and the ability of intermarriage between African Americans and whites, which was outlawed in Virginia until 1967 when the Supreme Court declared the “Racial Integrity Act of 1924” unconstitutional. This editorial became nationwide news, sparking articles, editorials, and letters around the country. Kaemmerle was removed as editor and nearly expelled by the Board of Visitors, but was allowed to graduate upon the insistence of President John Pomfret.
An apology for the incident was issued by the Board of Visitors to Kaemmerle in the 1980s. She died in 2001.
Flat Hat editor Jerry Hyman was involved in a similar incident, but one that drew less attention earlier in the 1940s.
- Various issues of the The Flat Hat including 7 February 1945; 21 February 1945; 28 February 1945.
- Marilyn Kaemmerle Collection
- Guide for doing research related to the College of William & Mary
In the News
- "EX-W&M EDITOR RECALLS EQUAL-RIGHTS COLUMN FUROR," THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT 21 February 1995; accessed 13 March 2008.
- "In 1945, a call for equality silenced," Flat Hat 12 February 2008; accessed 13 March 2008.
- "A call for integration at W&M came back in 1945," Richmond Times Dispatch 12 March 2008; accessed 13 March 2008.
To search for further material, visit the Special Collections Research Center's Search Tool List for an overview of the Special Collections Database, W&M Digital Archive, Flat Hat-William & Mary News-Alumni Gazette index, card catalogs, and other tools available to help you find material of interest in the Swem Library's Special Collections Research Center.
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