“Celebrating Black Alumni” (cover story, Nov. 13) made me think of my own many encounters with black students (now long-time alumni) at Princeton. Those started, on day one, with my RA. He was wonderful, and there were two other young black men in our entryway; all the rest of us were white women. My RA and his friends opened my eyes to so many aspects of the black experience in the United States, and taught me a new way of understanding our country’s history. Through many conversations, sitting around the dorm rooms late into the night, my eyes were opened, and these young men were wonderfully patient and caring as we talked over a huge variety of issues. Also, my RA used to play Billie Holiday records in his room — that was the first time I had ever heard her — and other jazz greats.
During the spring semester of my sophomore year, I was down at Dodge-Osborn. One person would put his record player right by the window, and blast, at full volume, his recordings of the speeches of Malcolm X for hours on end! I had never heard those speeches before, but I became very familiar with them, for which I am grateful to this day.
When I think about these kinds of memories, I feel so fortunate to have encountered students like those. The environment was changing then — black students were relatively new, women were still new, and the campus was changing. It was a rich time to be there, and I still feel grateful and lucky.