2020 has been an intense year. Along with an election and a pandemic, the year has included a notable resurgence in the Black Lives Matter movement following several instances of police brutality. Black history at WKU presents an opportunity to look at how national movements impact local changes.
Black history at WKU began 64 years ago when the university integrated in 1956. The first Black undergraduate student in WKU’s history, Margaret Munday, came to the Hill the following fall. Munday was the only Black student at the time and expected to face trouble when it came to dealing with Southern students.
In a 1996 interview with WKU alumnus Gene Crume, Munday explained that getting along with other students never turned out to be an issue.
“I didn’t have any problems,” Munday said. “Just as sweet as they could be.”
This transition was not without effort. During her time at WKU, Munday recalled a mysterious man she thought watched her at the bus stop every day, leaving at the same time she did. After notifying her family, they told her that the man was told to watch over her. She was unsure whether or not he was there for her safety.
More Black students began to arrive at WKU in later years. By 1963, there were 96 Black students enrolled and Black athletes began to be recruited.
Due to the racial precariousness of America at the time, 1971 was eventful for Black students at WKU. Black students across the country were driven by the civil rights movement to advocate for the integration of African-American studies courses in schools. Their dedication paid off as African-American studies, or Black studies as it was called at the time, became a course at WKU that same year.