Louisville Municipal College
The University of Louisville has a website for Louisville Municipal College with sections on both LMC and its predecessor Simmons University. The Linda Wilson Louisville Municipal College collection at the UofL library contains memorabilia of the college. Mimi O’Malley has a very thorough chapter on the founding of LMC in her book It Happened in Kentucky. The image of the entrance to Parrish Hall is from HBCUtrek.
In exchange for black voter support in a 1925 bond election to improve the University of Louisville, the city promised to provide an institution of higher education for blacks. Louisville Municipal College, a segregated branch of the University, was created in 1930.
The college opened on February 9, 1931 with 83 students. Under the control of the University of Louisville’s Board of Trustees, it followed the same curriculum. As a liberal arts college, it offered programs leading to degrees in social sciences, natural sciences and humanities. The five majors offered were biology, chemistry, English, history, and social science. LMC immediately received state accreditation as a junior college and then in 1935, when it had its first graduates, it received regional Southern Association accreditation as a four-year college. At the time it was one of three liberal arts colleges for blacks in the nation and the only one with municipal support to receive accreditation.
The college remained small, with graduating classes averaging 25 students (542 total graduates). But according to O’Malley, the rigorous curriculum and standards meant that a third of LMC graduates were accepted into prestigious graduate schools around the country. LMC students enjoyed a full range of activities. These included intercollegiate debating and dramatics teams and both vocal and instrumental music groups.
The closure of LMC in 1951 came about as a result of social changes which foresaw the end of segregation in education. As private colleges in Kentucky began admitting black students, the University of Louisville also began admitting blacks into graduate and professional programs in 1950 and into the regular liberal arts program in 1951. This ended the twenty-year history of LMC.
Bricks and Mortar
The Board of Trustees purchased the campus of the defunct Simmons College to house the new college. This was a 3.99-acre ground bounded by Seventh and Eighth Streets and Kentucky and Zane Avenues. Original buildings were a women’s dormitory (now Parrish Hall), built in 1909, and a chapel. A later addition was the administration/classroom building, known as Steward Hall. This was a four-story tan brick building designed and built by Simmons alumnus Samuel Plato in 1924.
Today the buildings have been returned to their original purpose. After 77 years, Simmons College of Kentucky returned to the campus in 2007. Steward and Parrish Halls are once again the center of campus activities.
Steward Hall (Courtesy of Mary Ann Sullivan, https://www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/kentucky/louisville/plato/collegefront.jpg
Team Name: Bantams
Colors: Purple and Gold
LMC fielded a football team in its first year of operation. Until after World War II the Bantams had little to celebrate. Between 1935 and 1938 they had a 2-22-2 record. They never were able to defeat Wilberforce or West Virginia State. The Bantams earned only one win each over Kentucky State, Lincoln (MO), Tennessee State, and Lane (TN).
Some alumni called a victory over Kentucky State the most memorable event in their time at the school.
With the coming of Dwight Reed, LMC won five of six games in 1946, losing only to Lincoln, (MO), and were selected to play in the Vulcan Bowl for the National Negro championship. There they lost to Tennessee State 32-0. That team had victories over Fort Knox, Miles, Morristown, Lockbourne AFB, and Fisk. In Reed’s second season, the team went 6-1-1; he then accepted the coaching position at Lincoln (MO) University.
Louisville Municipal University also had teams in basketball and track.
Members of the Delta Alpha chapter of the Zeta Iota Beta Sorority, organized at Louisville Municuipal College. LMC had a strong Greek system including Alpha Kappa Alpha and Sigma Gamma Rho sororities and Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/208080445257717790/)