Couple Fought Segregation in Columbia

1 decade 7 months 5 days ago February 21, 2006 Feb 21, 2006 Tuesday, February 21 2006 Tuesday, February 21, 2006 4:39:53 PM CST in News

Eliot Battle began teaching at Douglass High School in 1956, when it was an all-black school and the Columbia school district was slowly desegregating. The school closed in 1960, and the district sent Battle to teach at Hickman High School.

"I was transferred there, as well as the first black to be employed on a professional level in the Columbia Public Schools," he remembered.

Former Superintendent Jim Ritter believes Battle's outlook on life helped him become a successful teacher.

"He never did see the color lines. He treated everyone exactly the same," recalled Ritter. "And I think, very quickly, students recognized that fact and, as a result, didn't see him as an African-American."

Battle retired from the Columbia School District in 1991, then worked six years at Columbia College.

He also didn't accept racial lines at home. When he and his wife, Muriel, moved to Columbia, they lived in an all-black part of town. Real estate agents wouldn't show them houses in white areas until Battle took matters into his own hands.

"We located three or four houses in the city that were for sale by owner and it created a furor in town," said Battle. "There were persons who were upset that a black family had the, I guess the courage, they felt like it was the nerve, to infiltrate an area that had been heretofore all white."

The Battles moved into a house on Crown Point in 1963, making them the first blacks to move into an all-white neighborhood in Columbia. At that time, black people couldn't go to restaurants in town. Nearly all of the city's black people lived in the central part of Columbia, which was considered their community.

Battle credits his success to his wife. Muriel Battle had a 40-year career in Columbia Public Schools, including principal at West Junior High and associate superintendent for the district. She died in 2003.

"I believe that beside every successful man, there is a successful woman," explained Eliot. "And beside me for 62 years was Muriel."

Battle now spends his time distributing copies of his book to inspire young, black men. He hasn't given up being a teacher and still teaches through correspondence courses.

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - Republicans and Democrats both held watch parties in Columbia Monday night for the first presidential debate of 2016.... More >>
5 hours ago September 26, 2016 Sep 26, 2016 Monday, September 26 2016 Monday, September 26, 2016 11:36:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Police Department said it arrested a man after a road rage stabbing that happened at the... More >>
6 hours ago September 26, 2016 Sep 26, 2016 Monday, September 26 2016 Monday, September 26, 2016 11:15:00 PM CDT in News
LAKE OZARK - Two people burglarized a Kohl's department store on Saturday, Sept. 24. According to the Lake Ozark... More >>
7 hours ago September 26, 2016 Sep 26, 2016 Monday, September 26 2016 Monday, September 26, 2016 10:31:00 PM CDT in News
PATTON (AP) — A 49-year-old man is accused of causing a southeast Missouri crash that killed two people riding a... More >>
9 hours ago September 26, 2016 Sep 26, 2016 Monday, September 26 2016 Monday, September 26, 2016 7:45:01 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - If you think your teenager is addicted to his or her phone, you might be dealing with a... More >>
10 hours ago September 26, 2016 Sep 26, 2016 Monday, September 26 2016 Monday, September 26, 2016 6:38:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA—Boone County Emergency Management has implemented a new tool to help citizens in time of emergency. The software, called... More >>
12 hours ago September 26, 2016 Sep 26, 2016 Monday, September 26 2016 Monday, September 26, 2016 5:33:00 PM CDT in News
OSAGE COUNTY - School of the Osage officials got word Monday afternoon a suspect with warrants out for his arrest... More >>
12 hours ago September 26, 2016 Sep 26, 2016 Monday, September 26 2016 Monday, September 26, 2016 5:13:00 PM CDT in News
MARSHALL - The Marshall Police Department arrested a woman on Friday, Sept. 23 in relation to the death of an... More >>
13 hours ago September 26, 2016 Sep 26, 2016 Monday, September 26 2016 Monday, September 26, 2016 4:32:00 PM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A grant worth nearly $24 million from the National Science Foundation will fund a collaboration between... More >>
14 hours ago September 26, 2016 Sep 26, 2016 Monday, September 26 2016 Monday, September 26, 2016 3:14:26 PM CDT in News
HALLSVILLE – Hallsville R-IV Board of Education has acknowledged that work performed by B&B Services was not completed under a... More >>
14 hours ago September 26, 2016 Sep 26, 2016 Monday, September 26 2016 Monday, September 26, 2016 3:09:00 PM CDT in News
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Stockholders have approved the $12.2 billion sale of Topeka-based electric company Westar Energy to Missouri-based Great... More >>
14 hours ago September 26, 2016 Sep 26, 2016 Monday, September 26 2016 Monday, September 26, 2016 2:56:25 PM CDT in News
IRON MOUNTAIN LAKE (AP) — The body of an eastern Missouri man who went missing while fishing has been recovered.... More >>
15 hours ago September 26, 2016 Sep 26, 2016 Monday, September 26 2016 Monday, September 26, 2016 2:32:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA — The Columbia Housing Authority has completed its first fully-renovated public housing project. It is part of the Stuart... More >>
15 hours ago September 26, 2016 Sep 26, 2016 Monday, September 26 2016 Monday, September 26, 2016 2:21:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA — In my job, I get the opportunity to visit different companies to provide health and wellness programming for... More >>
15 hours ago September 26, 2016 Sep 26, 2016 Monday, September 26 2016 Monday, September 26, 2016 1:57:54 PM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A former St. Louis school board member has been appointed to a post on the Special... More >>
18 hours ago September 26, 2016 Sep 26, 2016 Monday, September 26 2016 Monday, September 26, 2016 11:05:00 AM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Another lawsuit alleging that a woman's use of talcum powder caused cancer is this week in... More >>
18 hours ago September 26, 2016 Sep 26, 2016 Monday, September 26 2016 Monday, September 26, 2016 10:53:02 AM CDT in News
FESTUS (AP) — The bills were unpaid, the phones shut off, trash piled up and eventually, food ran out. The... More >>
19 hours ago September 26, 2016 Sep 26, 2016 Monday, September 26 2016 Monday, September 26, 2016 9:37:28 AM CDT in News
COLUMBIA — Several Missouri public health professionals and administrators, including those with the Missouri Public Health Association (MPHA) and the... More >>
20 hours ago September 26, 2016 Sep 26, 2016 Monday, September 26 2016 Monday, September 26, 2016 9:05:00 AM CDT in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 55°
6am 52°
7am 51°
8am 54°
9am 59°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

5:00a
KOMU 8 News Today
6:00a
KOMU 8 News Today
7:00a
Today
5:30a
Paid Program
6:00a
King of the Hill
6:30a
King of the Hill

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
The Voice
9:00p
This Is Us
7:00p
The Flash
8:00p
MADtv
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld