What is the significance of February 2?

Silas Hunt

Silas Hunt, Photo Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville

If you said it’s the second day of Black History Month, You would be correct, but that is not the answer I’m looking for. February 2, 1948, was the date that Silas Herbert Hunt enrolled in the University of Arkansas School of Law. Mr. Hunt was an African American World War II Veteran with a BA in English from the Agricultural, Mechanical, and Normal College (AM&N and now the University of Arkansas) at Pine Bluff.  His enrollment signified the first time a black student had been officially admitted to a white Southern university since Reconstruction, and the first-ever admitted for graduate or professional studies. Mr. Hunt was admitted, but the University was still segregated, and his classes were relegated to the basement of the Law School. He was a serious student but became ill in April of 1949 and died from Tuberculosis.

Silas Hunt Monument

Silas Hunt Monument

As we leave a month of celebrating the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and move into February, Black History Month, it is only fitting that we recognize and honor the man who opened the doors for Black Students at the University of Arkansas. Mr. Hunt has been honored for his achievements in several ways; The U of A awards the Silas Hunt Distinguished Scholar Award to a deserving Black student, the Law School awarded Hunt a posthumous degree in 2008, a sculpture honoring him was placed on campus in 2012, and in 2007 the state legislature made February 2, the day Hunt enrolled in classes, a memorial day in his name.

There are a host of activities on campus for students celebrating Black History. Alumni and friends,  you probably have several activities in your community and on your personal calendar. This year, I ask that on February 2, you remember and honor Silas Herbert Hunt by saying his name and sharing his story.

For the Students and with Gratitude,

Ritche Bowden

Ritche Bowden
Black Alumni Society, President
Arkansas Alumni Association