Wayland Baptist University is considered a school for minorities.

Chloe Barham and Devin Davis said their research shows the university serves about an even number of students who identify as white and Hispanic.

Seventy years ago, when Wayland Baptist College, as it was called, accepted its first students of color, there was a larger population of students who identified as Asians, Barham and Davis said.

They would know. They spent the last semester doing in-depth research on the path to university integration to present their findings in a new exhibit at the Llano Estacado Museum on the WBU campus.

The exhibition officially opened with a special reception last week. Davis, a major junior in history, and Barham, a senior in the humanities, were both in attendance and gave the Herald a tour of their findings.

The results of their research are displayed in a wing of the museum. It includes artifacts, collections of old newspaper clippings and old letters sent to the president of the university – James Marshall – after the decision was made to admit students of color.

Marshall, said Davis and Barham, played a key role in promoting the university’s integration. He was a pioneer, said Davis.

Information boards set up for visitors to the museum detail how he obtained this title.

The exhibition will be on display at the Llano Estacado Museum on the WBU campus for next year.

Visitors will learn stories about the first students of color to be admitted, to be recognized at traditional college celebrations, and to learn about some of the struggles they initially faced on a campus formally integrated into a community that resisted those views.

The project actually started during the pandemic, said museum director Melissa Gonzalez, who teaches the internship, which allows students to act primarily as a museum curator. Former internship student Ethan Beyers began research in 2020 with the intention of creating an exhibit to showcase the findings for the museum. But the COVID-19 pandemic rocked those plans and he couldn’t see the project come to fruition.

When Davis and Barham signed up for the course they were presented with several options and ultimately chose to complement their findings and create this exhibit.

“We based a lot of our research on his research,” Barham said. “He’s helped a lot, so kudos to him. “

But it wasn’t just Beyers who helped them. Barham credits “a community” of WBU members for helping internship students fill in research gaps and find artifacts to help share their story.

As they walked through the exhibit sharing the details of their research, Barham and Davis each noted their passion for making sure their story is well known.

“It’s a labor of love,” said Barham, who noted the couple had spent long hours putting it all together in what they hope will be an engaging way for visitors to the museum. “We are really proud of it.

Those interested can visit the museum from Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.