Henrie Monteith Treadwell is torn.
On one hand, she is cheering for the University of South Carolina against Vanderbilt in this weekend’s football game. She was among the first three African American students to integrate USC in 1963 and remembers being welcomed onto campus.
On the other hand, she can’t cheer against her son, Malcolm Turner, who was named Vanderbilt’s athletic director earlier this year.
“Of course I’d like to see Carolina win, but I also have to support my son,” said Treadwell, 74, who will be attending Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. game at Williams-Brice Stadium.
“I really don’t know how to cheer,” she said.
Treadwell remembers her first day on USC’s campus, Sept. 11, 1963, as a positive experience.
“I was very pleased to see that whether people wanted the university integrated or not, they accepted it,” Treadwell said. “In no sense was I confronted in any way.”
She remembers small acts of kindness such as people smiling at her as they walked by.
“I never felt open hostility,” Treadwell said. “I’m sure it probably was there among some, but for me there were enough people who wanted to make it work.”
Treadwell graduated USC with a degree in biology. She received her master’s degree in biology from Boston University, her doctorate from Atlanta University and completed post-doctoral studies at Harvard University, according to her bio on the NAACP’s website.
She spent her career researching health care in underserved populations and now teaches at the school of medicine at Morehouse College, a historically black college or university, in Atlanta.
Though Treadwell is a football fan — many years, but not this year, she holds season tickets for the Atlanta Falcons — she never saw a Gamecock football game while she was a USC student, she said.
That’s because she was warned it would be difficult to ensure her safety inside a packed football stadium.
“I’ve gone to one or two games,” since graduating, Treadwell said. “But this one is special.”