Sometimes information about KU’s past comes from Spencer collections beyond University Archives. This week’s photo comes from our Kansas Collection.
This week’s post highlights the career of former KU student and faculty member C. Kermit Phelps (1908-2002). He earned his bachelor’s degree (1934), master’s degree (1949, Psychology), and doctorate (1952, Psychology) at the University of Kansas. In earning this last degree, Dr. Phelps became the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the university. Phelps later returned to KU as an Associate Professor of Psychiatry; he is considered the school’s first Black faculty member. Dr. Phelps taught in KU’s Department of Psychology from 1955 to 1970.
The Lawrence Daily World reported on the inaugural events the following day (October 18, 1902) in multiple articles, as seen below. The newspaper praised all aspects of the inauguration, arguing that overall it was “the most successful event ever consummated in this town” and “one that will live in university history as the greatest educational event in the west up to this time.” Humorously, the newspaper also noted that “while the programme [sic] was long it had to be so. Chancellor Strong has much to say and could not have outlined his policy in fewer words.”
In his telegram to the CRC members, Dr. King writes that “It is thoroughly heart warming and encouraging to know we have your support in the struggle for freedom and human dignity in Alabama. We hope [that] you will continue your fight for justice [in?] your campus community for, real knowledge and wisdom cannot flourish in an environment where there is discrimination on the basis of race and color. We [support] you because we know [that injustice anywhere is] a threat to justice everywhere. Keep the faith that right will prevail. You have my prayers for success in your creative efforts. The statement that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” comes from King’s 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”