Feb. 1 marks the first day of Black History Month. It is a tribute to African-American men and women who made momentous contributions to America and the entire world in multiple fields, such as Science, Mathematics and entertainment.
Black History Month usually highlights the likes of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr. and former President Barack Obama, sometimes overlooking the history made right under our noses.
During the 1950s APSU was still an all-white college. In 1954, Brown v. Board of Education declared separate but equal schools unconstitutional and thus beginning the integration of educational establishments. According to an APSU History book, Tennessee’s moderate response to the desegregation prompted an easy and relatively peaceful integration.
Wilbur Nathan Daniel was the first African-American to enroll into APSU in 1956. After receiving his Bachelor’s from Tennessee State University, he went on to be the first black honors graduate from APSU with Master’s degree in Education in 1957.
Hattie Walker Clay was the first African-American female enrolling into APSU, also enrolling in 1956. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Fisk University and went on to receive her Master’s in Education from APSU in 1957. She also taught at Burt High School for 38 years.
In the Spring of 1991, the Wilbur N. Daniel African American Cultural Center (WNDAACC) was dedicated to Daniel for his accomplishments and dedication to education.
In 2000, the mayor of Clarksville, Johnny Piper declared March 27-31 as Rev. Dr. Wilbur Nathan Daniel Week in the city to celebrate his “faithful service to God and his fellow man.”
The WNDAACC also rewards African American female faculty, staff and students for their work, dedication and leadership at APSU with the Hattie Walker Clay Recognition Ceremony.
According to apsu.edu/aacc, “It is a legacy of the historic Civil Rights and Black Studies Movements that sought, among many other goals and objectives, to have American colleges and universities more adequately and prominently reflect the full scope of human and cultural diversity in all areas of the learning environment.”