Lewis W. Diuguid

Giant in civil rights at MU dies

Updated: 2013-05-02T15:30:01Z

Arvarh Strickland was a legend at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Strickland, who died Tuesday at age 82, was the first African-American professor on the campus, starting in 1969. To black students in that turbulent time, he was a godsend.

The University of Missouri had an ugly history of exclusion of black people. Strickland came onto campus a year after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and during the troubled Vietnam War era.

His classes in black studies were always packed. Strickland was well-known for helping to increase the number of black faculty on campus and boosting the racial and ethnic diversity of the student enrollment.

But he was equally revered as a mentor for generations of black students in his 26 years of teaching before his retirement in 1996. Strickland continued to stay engaged with events at the university.

He will be missed.

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