Arelya Mitchell Joins Pi Delta Epsilon
The W, like other Southern women’s colleges, saw an ongoing debate about how the institution should function—as a finishing school (a place where Southern “ladies” could be coached on etiquette and manners) or as a college with a rigorous academic curriculum. Both impulses found expression on campus well into the twentieth century.
When black women desegregated the university, they became part of that evolving conversation.
Arelya Mitchell explained her father’s desire for her to attend the university:
"Now he had always taught me that black women were just as much Southern belles as white women. So he said to himself as a little boy that his oldest daughter was going to go to The W whether it was integrated or not."
In 1971, Arelya Mitchell was the first known African American member of an honorary society chapter at MSCW. She was inducted into Pi Delta Epsilon, a national journalism honorary society.
Pi Delta Epsilon, 1971.
Mississippi University for Women Archives. Meh Lady Collection.
Arelya Mitchell Oral History.
Mississippi University for Women Archives. Oral History Collection.