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Honoring the Past

Small Goatley and Bason Pic

Integrating the Carver School of Missions and Social Work

In the early 1950s, the WMU Training School in Louisville, Kentucky, found itself on the cusp of substantial change, and in 1952, the School voted to make three significant organizational modifications. The School elected to change its name from the WMU Training School to the Carver School of Missions and Social Work, and opened enrollment to male students for the first time as well as students of any race or nationality. Thus came down the walls of segregation at the Carver School.

In 1955, Freddie Mae Bason and Verlene Farmer Goatley, two African-American women from Oklahoma, were admitted to the School. They were both members of the National Baptist Convention's Women's Auxiliary, and Dr. Guy Bellamy, the secretary to the Department of Work with Negroes of the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, had recruited them to break the racial barrier at Carver.

Freddie Mae Bason was born in New Boston, Texas, in 1929, and moved to Oklahoma City shortly there after. She attended Langston University (a historically Black college), the Oklahoma School of Religion and the University of Tulsa. She dreamed of full-time Christian service but had only seen white women achieve this dream. Ms. Bason viewed this integration experiment as an opportunity to gain meaningful employment commensurate to her education but was well aware of the social implications of it.

Verlene Farmer Goatley was born in Bridgeport, Oklahoma, in 1933, and became interested in missionary work as a child. While a sophomore at Langston University and the Oklahoma School of Religion, Ms. Goatley met Dr. Bellamy through inner-city mission work; he asked her to integrate Carver School as she entered her senior year. Ms. Goatley was also aware of the social ramifications of such an opportunity but looked upon it as an honor to be asked because the School "used to be the WMU school™and anybody who was somebody would go to the WMU Training School."

Thus, supported by the WMU, these two young ladies successfully integrated the Carver School together in 1955. Upon completion of their Carver studies as well as other educational endeavors, these women went on to continue to break the barriers of race and gender as African-American women in church leadership. Ms. Goatley served as a missionary to Liberia for seven years and taught religious education classes at Langston University for 25 years. Ms. Bason worked through the Home Mission Board of the SBC in Atlanta, Georgia, providing after-school and family programs to low-income children and families. She also served as the managing editor of The Mission magazine and editor of The Worker, under the leadership of Nannie Helen Burroughs.