University of Missouri students and faculty joined together Monday night, to honor former MU professor Dr. Arvarh E. Strickland with a candlelight vigil.
The MU Legion of Black Collegians student government (LBC) and the iGUIDE Leadership Team hosted the event just outside of Strickland Hall, for whom the building was named, in memory of MU’s first-tenured black professor who passed away on April 30 at age 82.
Strickland’s family sat front row, as Chancellor Brady Deaton, Deputy Chancellor Michael Middleton, other faculty and students, joined them in celebrating Strickland’s life through speeches, prayer, music, song and dance.
Strickland joined the MU faculty in 1969. iGUIDE Executive Director and keynote speaker Kaylan Holloway said Strickland worked hard to incorporate black studies into the history department curriculum and increase the diversity of the MU Campus as a whole.
“He was a strong advocate of bringing the black faculty, bringing black students and not just black, minorities period,” Holloway said. “However, he did it with respect to everyone. He was a true definition of an innovator for One Mizzou.”
LBC President Marnae Chavers said that Strickland’s legacy is one of hope and inspiration and that the vigil is evidence of all the progress made since he came to MU.
"The minority rate at Mizzou then was very low,” Chavers said. “And just to see all these black faces, all these brown faces, and just everyone out here together, when just years ago the temperature on campus wasn’t how it is now. And it’s just inspiration. It’s hope.
Both Chavers and Holloway say they are grateful for the turnout and he feel the vigil was necessary to show students, even though many of those in attendance and did not know Strickland personally, just how important his legacy is to MU history.
“The main thing I would like for people to take away today is, build your legacy,” Holloway said. “A 4.0, cookie-cutter college student is great. But when you can leave a lasting impact to show someone, from similar demographics like you to see that all things are possible here at Mizzou, that’s one of the main things we’re trying to drive home.”
Strickland’s is survived by his wife of 50 years, Willie and two sons, Duane and Bruce.