“In order to do good, you must first do well” | The Transformation of Black Dartmouth
Digital Exhibit by Junelle Matthias, Dartmouth College Class of 2023
“They say a Sankofa bird of West Africa sees backward while it flies forward. It knows where it's going because it knows where it's been. I felt like the Sankofa bird. I know where I'm going, because I know where I’ve been, and so the idea of being a judge and being fair to people was easy to me.”
As part of the Dartmouth Black Lives Project, I had the opportunity to interview Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux on October 24, 2021. In 1967, on the last day to accept Dartmouth's offer of admission, Thibodeaux decided to enroll at Dartmouth College, where he encountered the intricacies of white society and his "subconsciousness." He attended Dartmouth from 1967 to 1971. At Dartmouth, he majored in government, was active in Tucker Foundation programs, and helped recruit Black students to Dartmouth College. Thibodeaux's participation in the Tucker Foundation played a significant role in his Dartmouth experience. From his travels across the country teaching students, Thibodeaux learned more about who he is and what he wants away from the Ivy League classroom.
JUNELLE MATTHIAS: How was your experience in the Tucker Foundation, given the political climate at Dartmouth at the time?
GENE THIBODEAUX: It was great. I'm glad I was involved. A lot of your education, Junelle, comes from the exterior, not the Interior, and I found out that this is what the real world is, and these are some of the real-world problems, and these are some of the pragmatic ways that you can approach those problems. You really don't have a full appreciation of those problems and the implementation of programs to address those problems until you were away from the cocoon. You're growing up.