African-Americans played major roles
in the location and the
our great university
as it expanded in the 20th century.
In the 1920s, trustees decided to expand
the undergraduate program and relocate
from downtown to a donated plot of land
from the Belknap family in the Highlands
area of the city. Because the school was
municipally financed, a $1 million bond
in capital funds was required to make the
move. However, at the time, the university
was segregated, and African-American
voters in Louisville were successful in their
efforts to deny the approval of the bond.
Instead, a compromise was reached in
which the trustees sold the donated land
and purchased the campus many of us
now call home. Along with this acquisition,
the trustees acquired Simmons College —
an established, historically black school
— and renamed it Louisville Municipal
College (LMC), a separate and segregated
municipal college under the administration
of the Board of Trustees of the University
When UofL was integrated in 1951, one
faculty member — Charles H. Parrish, Jr.
— transferred from LMC, becoming UofL's
first African-American educator. Today, the
area known as Parrish Court (above, top)
just south of the quad is named after him.
Recently, thanks in large part to the
efforts of Blaine Hudson, late dean of Arts
and Sciences, the university has established
Freedom Park near The Playhouse between
Second and Third Streets. Completed in
2012, the site features 10 markers depicting
the story of black progress from settlement
to the present. A pergola at the north end
(above, bottom) displays biographical statements and photos of nine civil rights activists who advanced inclusiveness at UofL.