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Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - 9:48am

Trail Blazing Student Returns To Mercer

Updated: 3 years ago.
Sam Oni speaks with reporters at Mercer University in Macon (photo Josephine Bennett)

Nearly 50 years after he first enrolled, Mercer University’s first black student returned to campus. Sam Oni reunited with his roommate to tell today’s students about what life was like on campus in the 60’s.

Oni first heard about Mercer while being taught by Baptist missionaries in his home country of Ghana. They encouraged him to apply to several Southern Baptist universities and Mercer was the only one that said yes.

Pre-med student Donald Baxter became his roommate and lifelong friend. Oni told a room full of students he was shocked by what he found here in 1963.

“To come to the United States and find that all wasn’t well, especially in the area of race relations was jarring to put it very, very delicately and disillusioning.”

Oni became involved in the Civil Rights movement while living in Macon. He went on to work as a journalist and college professor.

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