Purdue University Renames 2 Residence Halls for 2 Sisters Who Helped Integrate Campus Housing

Winifred and Frieda Parker (Image: Courtesy of Purdue)

Purdue University has renamed two residencies after two sisters who played key roles in the fight for black students’ rights to live on campus site back in the 1940s.

Purdue University has announced renaming the Griffin Residence Halls after Winifred and Frieda Parker. In June, the Purdue Board of Trustees approved a request from Provost Jay Akridge to rename the Griffin Residence Halls after the Parker sisters. The family efforts in the 1940s forced Purdue to integrate its student housing. The Parker Hall residences are the first buildings on campus to be named after black alumnae.

After the Parker sisters signed up at Purdue University in the fall of 1946, the sisters and their parents initiated the campaign that forced the institution to integrate its student housing. The Parker sisters were among the first black women to move into Bunker Hill residences after the university ended its segregated housing in January 1947.

“It’s one of those stories of persistence and groundbreaking action and opens doors for so many others — both women and women of color,” Akridge says. “These two women were Boilermakers in every way when you think about some of those attributes that we love to highlight and celebrate.”

Renamed after the Parker sisters, the current residences are located adjacent to the Black Cultural Center and steps from the former Bunker Hill site at the corner of Third Street and Martin Jischke Drive.

Two months ago, the Purdue Board of Trustees approved a request to formally rename the Griffin Residence Hall buildings to Frieda Parker Hall and Winifred Parker Hall.

“They were pioneers in their own way,” said Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, John Gates. “There is so much in their Purdue story and their remarkable lives that this is something to celebrate and honor.”

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