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Purdue to honor trailblazing Parker sisters with new commemorative installation

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WISH) — Purdue University will begin its celebration of Black History Month on Friday with the unveiling of two plaques honoring a pair of trailblazing, barrier-breaking sisters from the 1940s.

Winifred and Frieda Parker helped break down the walls of segregation and paved the way for integrated student housing at Purdue in the late 1940s.

The unveiling event is at 3:30 p.m. in the lobby of Frieda Parker Hall, 401 N. Russell St., West Lafayette. Faculty, staff, students and the public are invited to attend, but an RSVP is encouraged.

“I can’t think of a more appropriate way to kick off a celebration of Black history than to honor the legacy of the Parker sisters,” John Gates, vice provost for diversity, inclusion and belonging, said in a statement. “Their story is one of persistence, courage, grace, and a lifetime of excellence. It’s our hope that the installation will empower and inspire hundreds who live in and pass through the Parker Halls.”

In 2021, the Purdue Board of Trustees voted to rename the former Griffin Hall in honor of the Parker sisters. The combined Winifred and Frieda Parker Halls are home to more than 800 Purdue students and are just a few steps away from the Black Cultural Center.

The permanent commemorative installation includes a plaque for each sister in their respective residence halls and a story-telling feature in the Frieda Parker Hall Lobby.