The University of Missouri has honored three African Americans trailblazers who helped shape the school at a dedication of Brooks and Bluford Halls.
Nathan Dare, president of the Residence Halls Association, said his organization put forward the recommendations to name the buildings. Dare said they chose to name the buildings after Brooks and Bluford because there are no other buildings on campus named after people of color.
“Our residence halls are supposed to be home to people and how are we truly welcoming people if we are only welcoming one particular race or white men and women?," Dare said. "So I think it is very important that we not only diversify naming the buildings and just making sure that everyone feels like their voice is being heard and making sure that this is home to them.”
Students with the Legion of Black Collegians and Four Front participated in a solidarity march at the hall dedication. The groups work to represent marginalized groups on MU’s campus. The students participated in a peaceful protest, chanting “this is what the revolution looks like.”
Taylar Warren, the ex-officio chair of LBC said she feels very emotional about how African American women are represented by Bluford Hall. She said “Black women… our presence in the world and at Mizzou is not really that appreciated that often. So just to know that another Black woman came to Mizzou and stood for something and planted seeds for us to be able to come here makes me feel needed and wanted on this campus.”
The halls are named after George C. Brooks, Lucile Bluford, and an atrium in the attached dining complex is named after Gus T. Ridgel. Bluford was denied admittance to the MU Graduate School of Journalism.
- Bluford was denied admission to the MU graduate program in journalism, then took her case to the Missouri Supreme Court, which ruled in her favor in 1941. She was never able to attend the university, however because MU temporarily closed its graduate school altogether in 1942. She was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1989.
- Brooks was the MU's first African American administrator when he held the position of financial aid director for 17 years.
- Ridgel was MU’s first African-American student to earn a graduate degree.
Dare says the Residence Hall Association is in the process of trying to rename North, Center and South halls to honor more people who are important to the University.