Arvarh E. Strickland
1930 – 2013
Dr. Arvarh E. Strickland was the first African American professor at the University of Missouri. Born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi in 1930, Strickland graduated from Tougallo College, a historical black college outside Jackson, Mississippi. While earning his doctorate degree from the University of Illinois, Strickland taught in Jackson’s segregated schools, becoming principal and ultimately the supervisor of Black Schools in Madison County, Mississippi.
By the time Strickland and his wife Pearl arrived in Columbia in 1969, he already had earned a solid reputation as a historian. He had been a full professor at Chicago Teacher’s College and the author of the widely-praised book History of the Chicago Urban League (1966). In Columbia, the Stricklands found a southern town still struggling with the end of segregation and with the aftermath of a massive urban renewal project. They were the first African American family to join First United Methodist Church. Dr. Strickland became active in a number of civil organizations and became a member of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission. His devotion to community service and mentoring students made Strickland popular with MU students and with members of the academic profession at large. Today, a classroom building on the campus, Strickland Hall, is named in his honor.