Hazel's Influence on Millersville

"A symbol of Hope to remind us of a past of distinction and a future of promise."

Henry Van Dyke Reading

Introducing Diversity to the English Department Curriculum 

“I introduced a course in Multi-Cultural Literature. I proposed this course; [I] called [it] [a] special topics course in Multi-Cultural Literature. And this gave me a chance not only to introduce Black writers into the curriculum, but Oriental writers, and Native American writers, and Hispanic writers and so on. So, it was kind of a collection of ethnic author groups that most students had not read, and that was exciting, and it turned out well.” 

“I was very pleased to see when students chose writers for their final papers in [my] Introduction to Literature class. I would say at least half of the white students would choose the Black writers to do their major paper on, and they [the students] were being introduced to someone that they had never read works by, and they were impressed by what they [the Black authors] wrote and how they wrote. So, it opened a new world for them and that was very gratifying to me.” 

Bringing Black History Month Celebrations to Millersville State College 

“The number of African American students and students of color certainly was limited, but there was nothing really to address the need, shall I say, the aesthetic needs of our students because everything was more or less focused on the majority culture. And I felt that it was so necessary to give our students the kinds of things that they could identify with. So, each year during Black History Month we began celebrating Black History Month by having a major celebration of the arts and drama and poetry and music.”  

“I knew we had a large number of Black students who were very talented and who enjoyed doing dramatic pieces and poetry and music and all of that. So, we did all three of these [dramatic pieces, poetry, and music] in our celebration and we would have musical compositions by African American [composers] performed by our music students or the students who could play instruments. And, we’d have a section on poetry and a section on drama.” 

“And so, we put on a wonderful kind of performance and the students loved it. I mean they really gave their best to making this turn out well. In fact, it became so popular that students came from other state universities to celebrate with us. I mean, we started off in Ganser Library [now McNairy Library], in the Ganser auditorium, [and] the first time that we had it the place was so packed that the whole lobby was filled with people. There was not enough space to accommodate the group, and so then we moved to the auditorium in the Student Memorial Center, and that gave us more room. And it really was a very popular event on campus. Our Black History Celebration was just marvelous.” 

English Club Arts Festival

Encouragement and Support for Black Students on Campus and Lancaster County 

“I have a special concern for African American students because I know some of the ordeals that students have gone through and many of them come from large urban schools were they’ve not had the kind of background that they need to prepare them. And so, there was a real concern about their being able to cope, and my concern that they would be able to persevere even when things were not going as well as maybe they might have gone. That they would be encouraged to stay the course.” 

English Club Arts Festival

Growing Opportunities for Black Students at Millersville via Clubs, Organizations, Sororities, and Fraternities 

When Jackson arrived at Millersville State College in 1970, opportunities for Black students “had not come about at that time.” “But, within a few years the fraternities and sororities were brought to campus because, you know, the chapters did come in and set up for sororities and fraternities and I was a member of one of the sororities and I served as advisor to a group of young women who wanted to be a part of this group. And then there was the Black Students Union which later came along, and this provided an opportunity for leadership and for activities because the Black Students Union did have funding.” 

Supporting Student Growth in Classes 

“I could see them [the students] move from failure, if you will, because I refused to give students F’s and that sort of thing. I would just give them the paper back and ask them to rewrite it and try to improve it and find out how they could improve it and that sort of thing. So, they had a second chance. Now, if they didn’t do well on the second chance, then I had to kind of give them basically what they had earned, but usually there would be an improvement after being given a second chance instead of just giving them a failure, because I know that can be very devastating, especially if you put some work and effort into something.”

English Club Arts Festival