The late Avarh E. Strickland lived long enough to see his accomplishments at the University of Missouri properly honored. In a fitting tribute that took place on October 19, 2007, a building was renamed after the historian and professor, adding to other honors.
Strickland was born July 6, 1930 in Hattiesburg, Miss., primarily raised by his mother and her parents. He graduated summa cum laude from Tougaloo College in 1951, and two years later earned a master’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign after marrying Willie Elmore and avoiding the draft.
He eventually had to serve in the armed forces due to the Korean War.
In 1969, the University of Missouri added Strickland to its faculty as a history professor, becoming the first African-American educator at the institution. His strong command of history and his 1966 book History of the Chicago Urban League qualified the hire and he swiftly helped the school in many ways.
With Strickland’s leadership, the school added African-American History to its curriculum. Strickland helped the chancellor in bring in diverse leadership at the academic level and beyond. Minority recruitment also increased with Strickland on board.
Strickland retired in 1995 and the following year, a meeting room in the Memorial Student Hall was dedicated to the professor. A professorship in African-American History was also dedicated to him, with the first professor under the endowment, Dr. Wilma King, named in 1999.
Avarh Strickland passed in 2013.
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