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IRMA E.L. SEPHUS

First African American Undergraduate Student at UNT

Irma Etta Loud Sephus was the first African American undergraduate student to attend the University of North Texas, in Denton. This art piece features a screen capture from an historic video discovered in UNT Library's KXAS news archive, likely recorded during Irma's first day or week as a student on campus. During the brief interview, Irma diplomatically described her integration onto campus as friendly and without incident, in stark contrast to riots and protests sparked across the South by educational integration that same year. Irma was the only African American student enrolled that Spring.


The following semester, a second African American student named Burlyce Logan described her experience very differently, saying it was Hell. Looking forward to making friends and studying music, she instead watched crosses burn on her front lawn, was pelted with rocks and was pushed into traffic. Under racist pressure, she left UNT and Texas after her second year. Decades later in what she described as a "whole different world,” she returned to Denton and UNT to earn a bachelor’s degree in applied arts and sciences.