Skip to main content

African Americans at Westminster: The First Students

This research guide will help students wanting to learn more about the African American experience at The Westminster Schools.

The First Students

In the fall of 1967, the first five African American students were admitted to the 8th grade: Isaac Clark, Janice Kemp, Michael McBay, Jannard Wade, and Wanda Ward. Over the years other African American students joined them. In addition, Dawn Clark was admitted to the 4th grade, and Bill Billings was admitted to the 5th grade.

  • In 1968, Ron McBay joined the 5th grade, Malcolm Ryder joined the 9th grade class, and Anthony Maddox and Julius Scott joined the 8th grade.
  • In 1969, Joia Johnson joined the 5th grade, Lisa Borders (Class Vice President) joined the 7th grade, and Nicholas Harvey joined the Pre-First class, becoming the first African American Alpha Omega.
  • In 1970, Corliss (Peaches) Blount and Karen Meeks joined the 10th grade, Edward Moore joined the 9th, grade, Buddy Cooper joined the 8th grade, and Dawn Clark, Vic Bolton, Ronald McBay joined the 7th grade. Elinor Benson joined the Pre-First class in 1970, becoming the second African American Alpha Omega.
  • In 1972, three of the original five graduated, including Malcolm Ryder who had joined them in 1968. Also in 1972, Jan Edwards and Billy Borders joined the 7th grade, and Donata Russell joined the 8th grade.

Wanda Ward '72

Wanda Ward was voted most valuable player on the girls’ basketball team and was the recipient of the Thyrza Askew Memorial Scholarship for academic excellence, as well as being a member of the National Honor Society. She was one of the first female high school graduates to attend Princeton, up until then a male-only school. She received a B.A. in psychology as well as the Afro-American Studies Certificate from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford University. Dr. Ward was an associate professor of psychology and founding director of the Center for Research on Multi-Ethnic Education at the University of Oklahoma, Norman. She has also held visiting academic appointments at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Johns Hopkins University. She is currently Senior Advisor to the Director of the National Science Foundation.

Isaac Clark

Isaac Clark graduated early in 1971 and had enough credits for a double enrollment at both Morehouse College and Georgia Tech.

Janice Kemp

Janice Kemp was active in JV Basketball during her time at Westminster. She stayed through the end of the 1969 school year before leaving.

Michael McBay '72

Michael McBay attended Stanford University, UCLA Medical School, and entered Emergency Medicine Residency at King/Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles, all the while performing original music in rock clubs at night. Dr. McBay currently lives in Los Angeles, California.

Jannard Wade '72

Jannard Wade became Westminster’s first African American football player and a star on the 1971 state championship team. During his senior year, he received the F. James Funk III Memorial Award. After graduation, he attended Morehouse, earning a B.A. in Music Education. He has spent several years in the insurance business, and was elected President of the Atlanta Association of Life Underwriters. He is currently an independent agent at Futurity First Insurance Group in Atlanta, Georgia. His daughter, Brittany Wade, is a 2007 graduate of The Westminster Schools.

Malcolm Ryder '72

Malcolm Ryder was in the National Honor Society, the International Thespian Society, the International Quill and Scroll, the Cum Laude Society and was a National Merit Scholarship finalist. He attended Princeton University, and received the first customized undergraduate degree in photography, film and video ever awarded by Princeton. During the next ten years he designed and operated competitive grant funding programs for individual artist fellowships at the city, state, and federal level. In San Francisco he translated his experience into a consulting career in IT through a boutique firm in the financial district, and became a software developer, eventually becoming an executive and management consultant for IT startups. From there he moved mainly to product development and strategy for several large software companies, while remaining busy in the background as an artist. He is currently a Senior Software Architect / Solutions Engineering at CA Technologies and Principal, Research Director at Archestra in San Francisco, California.