Battle's Daughter Reflects on Family Legacy

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COLUMBIA - It's Black History Month and that means people are remembering those who have left a lasting impact on the Columbia community.

Less than a year ago, Eliot Battle sat at the dedication of the Muriel Williams Battle High School. Muriel Williams Battle passed away in 2003 and worked for Columbia Public Schools for 40 years.

One of Battle's daughters, Muriel Browder described that moment as meaningful and special to Battle.

"Nothing made my father more proud," Browder said. "My father was my mother's biggest cheerleader."

Eliot Battle died just nine days after the high school dedication.

Along with being educators, Muriel and Eliot Battle were pivotal figures in the desegregation of Columbia Public Schools. They worked toward integrating Columbia's residential areas as well.

"Those were also tumultuous times," Browder said. "There were neighborhoods where African Americans could not go to where our friends lived. I look at those heroes who went against their neighborhood covenants and had us come to their home. There are a lot of those heroes in this town black and white that made the transition for us as perfect as it could have been."

The Battle family's legacy continues to live on. Browder lives in the family's home. She says it's great way to keep her family's spirit alive.

"It is great to know that the grands and the greats will always be able to come back to grandaddy's house and see their names in the cement," Browder said.

Two weeks ago, the Columbia Board of Education voted to name the new northeast Columbia elementary school opening in 2015, Eliot Battle Elementary.

"The naming of the elementary school after him [Eliot] would have meant the world to my mother just as it means the world to us," Browder said. "I so relish in the fact that in Columbia, Missouri mom and dad will always be right next to each other as they were for a lifetime in the city."