Chester Travelstead (1911-2006): He Was Fired From the University of South Carolina in 1955 After Calling for Racial Integration

On August 2, 1955, Chester Coleman Travelstead, dean of the School of Education at the University of South Carolina, gave a speech urging lawmakers in the state to comply with the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. Shortly after making the statement Travelstead was fired.

Soon afterward Travelstead was hired as dean of the College of Education at the University of New Mexico. At a press conference announcing the appointment, then University of New Mexico president Tom Popejoy was asked if he knew that his new appointee had recently been fired by the University of South Carolina. President Popejoy answered, “Yes, we considered that a recommendation.”

Travelstead, who died late last month at the age of 95, was born in Franklin, Kentucky, in 1911. He was a graduate of Western Kentucky University. He held a master’s degree from Northwestern and an educational doctorate from the University of Kentucky.

He served as an administrator at the University of New Mexico for 21 years and was the institution’s first provost. He retired in 1977 and was named professor emeritus. The University of New Mexico College of Education building is now named in his honor and an endowed professorship was established in his name. There is also a special room named after Travelstead in the library at the University of South Carolina.