Seeds planted by civil rights trailblazers Winifred and also Frieda Parker still growing today, tomorrow

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — throughout the early on stages that the American civil legal rights movement and well prior to the landmark Brown v. Board of education and learning decision, sister Winifred and also Frieda Parker to be leading the effort to incorporate student real estate on’s campus and across Indiana. On Oct. 3, the Parker sister were honored for your courageous management with the dedication of two residence halls in their names ~ above the college campus.

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The ceremony, which contained hundreds of supporters and members that the Parker family, was the formal celebration of the board of Trustees’ June 2021 vote to name the residence halls after ~ the Parker sisters. When Winifred and also Frieda were admitted come in 1946, black students were denied access to housing in West Lafayette, which had’s campus.

While your father carried out a campaign encouraging to change its policies, the sisters courageously paved the means for their peers and also future generations of black students top top campus.

Portraits that Frieda, left, and Winifred Parker adorn the within of among the residence halls called in their honor. ( university photo/John Underwood) Download photo

Winifred Parker and also Frieda Parker halls — the an initial buildings ~ above campus called for black alumnae — stand as reminders to every students of the courageous procedures it takes come make meaningful change. The buildings, and the tree planted throughout their dedication, represent an ext than a solitary heroic minute in time; rather, they are the latest manifestation of one family’s continuous pursuit for and also celebration of the power of equitable, accessible education.

“This tree, a dawn redwood, will become tall and solid just together Winifred Parker White and also Frieda Parker-Jefferson grew and also became solid leaders throughout their lives,” john Gates,’s vice provost for diversity and inclusion told the audience. “This tree will make the living suffer on our campus much more beautiful for generations come come and also remind those that stop and also gaze in ~ its beauty, beauty of two young ladies who room forever linked to the good ongoing story that”

Alongside the Black cultural Center at the edge of 3rd and north Russell streets, the tree and residence halls are reminders the a legacy like the Parkers’ is not the result of one minute or one action. Though based upon a single, main point principle — that education and learning should be available, available and equitable — the Parker’s actions became a legacy when Winifred, Frieda and also their family decided to was standing by that principle, in the face of adversity, every day of their lives.

 By selecting to persistently seek their values, the Parker household demonstrates how single steps do again and also again and also again deserve to act as seeds of change that continue to grow for generations. Hear your story and impact on in this YouTube video.

Today, student employees working in the 2 Parker Halls boast a slogan the represents Winifred and Frieda well: “Pioneers in their own way. Boilermakers in every way.” after graduation, the sisters went on to live rich lives as educators, scientists and advocates. The Parkers and also their households remained vocal loyalists lengthy after graduation. Your story is featured in the 2009 documentary, “Black,” and also “A force for Change: The course of 1950,” by historian John Norberg. Now, archival exhibits in the Parker Halls will share their story to brand-new audiences.

“Like Neil Armstrong or Amelia Earhart, Winifred and also Frieda Parker are heroic icons, and also it’s mine hope that these facilities and the exhibits within them will aid amplify their duty in the American story,” claims Renee Thomas,’s associate vice provost for diversity and inclusion.

* president Mitch Daniels join members of the Parker household at the Oct. 3 dedication that the Winifred Parker and also Frieda Parker Residence halls. The sister led the initiatives to integrate campus housing during the American civil civil liberties movement. ( college photo/John Underwood) Download image

The great equalizer

The Parkers’ legacy as changemakers began with Winifred and also Frieda’s father, Frederick. Throughout the early part of the 20th century, Fred was one of several distinguished Black guys recruited to to visit Amherst College, an upstream liberal arts university in Massachusetts.

“Selected to it is in educated amongst the many elite individuals from throughout the nation, my grand realized that education and learning was the great equalizer,” claims Adrienne White-Faines, daughter of Winifred Parker White. “He thought that when you are in the classroom, learning together, acquisition the same exams, it’s beyond your skin color, past your story and beyond your history.”

To his core, Fred thought in the strength of education. As a teacher and principal in ~ Crispus Attucks High college in Indianapolis, he is well-known for having actually instilled high academic expectations and social pride in his students, laying solid foundations for your aspirations of coming to be doctors, lawyers, educators, artists and also more. Fred Parker obtained the Harvard compensation for superior Teaching in 1970 and also an honorary doctorate indigenous Amherst university in 1973.

“Because of his opportunities and experiences, my grandfather specialized his life to helping countless Black men and also women gain accessibility to and receive levels in greater education,” White-Faines says. “He adjusted the trajectory the lives and also families for generations.”

As firsthand recipients the this lesson, White-Faines says, there to be no inquiry that Winifred and also Frieda would certainly go to college.

After being admitted come in 1946, the sisters came down on a campus tho learning how to provide easily accessible and equitable education for all. Years before the landmark decision that Brown v. Board of education opened the doors because that desegregation in publicly schools and also legally developed the rule that different accommodations might not offer equal opportunities, college student of shade were forbidden from life in West Lafayette, which had campus.

“My grandfather recognized that education in itself happens in a range of environments,” White-Faines says. “Education happens in the classroom. Education happens in the dining hall. Education and learning happens in the dorm room. Education and learning happens since you come together to hear perspectives and also learn.

“Black students, therefore, to be being admitted right into, however yet they weren"t.”

In the challenge of policy-supported segregation, adversity and prejudice,’s black color students bolstered their scholastic success by tapping right into their mutual strength and resiliency.

“Many, numerous Black students, in order to survive, relied ~ above their own internal society and community,” White-Faines says. “And it was those areas that enabled you to make it through. Those were your friends. They were exactly how you were affirmed. They assisted you uncover your toughness to placed on her coat, if girlfriend will, and also go out right into this setting to earn your education, knowledge that you were navigating a really dynamic world of acceptance.”

No matter the stamin of their assistance system, without complete acceptance into the residential campus experience, the Parkers and their peers faced systemic obstacles that impede them native receiving the complete potential of your education. In the rural Midwest of the 1940s, many simple services — consisting of haircuts and also restaurants — to be not open to black color Americans in West Lafayette.

“Imagine being a student, having actually to study, to carry out your work, climate to take trip all the method across the bridge right into downtown Lafayette to obtain home, frequently by foot — lock didn’t have access to the transportation solutions we have today,” thomas says.

“We’re not simply talking about missing society events, which anyone would acknowledge as critical part of the residential college experience. Every basic need compelled a commute — acquiring a haircut, going to sleep in ~ night, detect a location to eat. That takes an substantial amount of time and also energy.”

Segregation denied black students access to the many essential facets of a high quality education, making your college experience very different from that of today’s students.

Adrienne White-Faines, daughter of Winifred Parker White, speaks throughout the dedication about her mother and aunt’s legacy. ( college photo/John Underwood) Download image

The appropriate women because that the job

Convinced that Winifred, Frieda and also their partner were not receiving the education and learning he envisioned because that them, Fred Parker and his family members started a project on 2 fronts: together Fred began petitioning state and also university management for incorporated housing, Winifred and Frieda ongoing creating bridges top top campus.

“He made it famed that was a land-grant institution supported through state taxes, and also his taxes sustained the school just like everyone else’s. For this reason why couldn’t his kids live on campus?” Frieda Parker created of her father in her donation to “Force for Change.” “The truth that Blacks were not enabled in the dorms to be a plan that had actually been set up in the real estate office at It was no a law.”

White-Faines says, “Because of my grandfather’s confidence and courage, he was comfortable getting to out and also taking the threats to say, ‘I understand what same looks like. I know what appropriate looks like. And I"m not afraid to politely, but firmly, advocate.’ He was able to offer voice not only to mine mother and aunt, yet to all of the black students top top the campus who were not yet permitted to live ~ above campus or in West Lafayette.”

In January 1947, both sisters were admitted to Bunker Hill, i beg your pardon sat just down the block indigenous the newly named Parker halls. The change brought the own challenges for the newly admitted black color residents.

It was Winifred and also Frieda’s rotate to display confidence and courage.

“We received a letter indigenous the dean of women who did every little thing she can to discourage united state from coming and also living top top the campus quick of informing us just how much more joy we would be and also how the human being wouldn"t speak to us and, you know, the very same old thing all the time,” Frieda states in the documentary “Black” “We didn"t think them anyway.”

Asked just how her mother and also aunt challenged their move right into yet one more predominantly white space, White-Faines explains women qualified of setting aside their own fears, “because you should be present for those roughly you.”

“The beauty beauty is, mine mother and also my aunt were both exceptionally warm, type — my aunt was infectiously funny — and approachable people. Girlfriend couldn"t aid but like them,” she says. “I can picture my aunt"s feeling breaking azer moments, because only she might do that. And also my mother could turn through her empathetic and compassionate self and make people warm up to brand-new things.”

It wasn’t only the Parkers and also their peers that were treading brand-new water. Together the an initial Black residents of Bunker Hill, the Parkers boring the burden of making their white peers comfortable through the situation.

“What did by complete the dorms was to open a whole various world, not just for black people, however for all the white women that were life in your dorms,” White-Faines says. “It demystified the idea of black women. They could walk away going, ‘They brush your teeth similar to I do. Castle laugh in the room just like I do. They deserve to be friends. I have the right to see them together people.’”

“Access is no just around making a means for black color people. It"s do a means for the civilization to appreciate the diversity that exists within all of us, therefore we have the right to all grow. We all suffer once that is denied,” she says. “Those to be not straightforward days ­— lots of challenges — but they were the ideal women to do it.”

The Parker family’s legacy did not finish with your class, with Black students, or even with Friends v civil legal rights giants such as Charles Hamilton Houston, dean of Howard regulation School and also a founder of the national Bar Association, Fred Parker was associated to a number of individuals bringing soon litigation versus colleges and also universities throughout the nation for worries related to segregation and also unequal access, cutting board says.

“This story really resonates v me since it gives historical context because that the exorbitant story that University has actually as it relates to the afri American community. Yes, it began as a fault by the institution and society, yet increased to the challenge to change, and also we keep relocating forward,” cutting board says. 

Winifred and Frieda Parker Residence halls. ( college photo/John Underwood) Download image

An American legacy

During Sunday’s dedication ceremony, chairman Mitch Daniels express admiration not only of the sisters, but of your family’s mutual commitment come a unified cause.

“I love what a family story this is,” that said. “As distinctive as these two sisters were, you’ve simply seen, and also I hope you already knew, the story the a great American family.”

The Parkers’ story is simply that – a story make of countless moments, plenty of people and many contributions. It began with Fred Parker’s belief in the value of education, carried on v the great he mutual with others, persisted in the courageous action of his children, and also endures tho in the actions bring away by college in honor of the Parker family story.

With sunshine breaking through a hazy sky, management took the phase to iterate the role of education in developing a just society. They take it the chance to reaffirm’s meeting to developing equitable pathways because that all.

“Education is the good lowerer of barriers, and in the knowledge economic climate we live in today – whereby there has been a most progress – the is tho the biggest barrier to increase mobility of totally free people,” Daniels says. “ is committed to lowering that as our donation to a more just and much more successful society for all. Affordable, available and equal chance to a education and learning is our highest commitment.”

Last year, the plank of Trustees created the Equity task Force, whose assessment that structural and also environmental obstacles to success of faculty, staff and students of color resulted in whole strategic shaft committed come not just bettering – but excelling – at producing an atmosphere of success for black Boilermakers.

“Our overarching goal is because that to come to be the first-choice college for black students, faculty and staff,” entrances told the crowd. “Second choice just won"t do.”

Gates likewise relayed the university’s meeting to double Black undergraduate enrollment and substantially increase the number of Black faculty over the next 5 years, citing actionable to plan for new scholarships, swarm hires, mentoring programs and community-building initiatives.

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“The plank of Trustees has committed come a score of $75 million during the next five years to support this initiative,” entrances says. “Seventy-five million dollars is among the biggest sums of any public university in the United states for such a cause. That"s our is at a defining moment in creating a future because that Blacks in ~ this university that will certainly be a design for other universities to monitor – and we will certainly succeed.”

Said White-Faines at the dedication event: “My mother, Winifred, and also my aunt, Frieda, pertained to with the clear and also unwavering score to pursue and also receive their bachelor levels as your parents had instilled in them that education is the an excellent equalizer. At the time and still today, it’s taken that likely the strongest and also most efficient and effective pathway come a much more just and also peaceful civilization is with education.”

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