COMO YOU KNOW: Muriel Battle

Thursday, March 1, 2012 | 12:00 p.m. CST; updated 8:09 p.m. CDT, Friday, May 9, 2014
Muriel Battle, in a portrait that hangs in the Battle home.

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Muriel Battle began teaching in Columbia Public Schools in the 1950s as the district was moving toward desegregation. She was the first African-American principal in the city's integrated schools. She also was the first female assistant superintendent for secondary education.

Columbia's newest high school, scheduled to open in 2013, will bear her name.


Born Jan. 23, 1930; died March 2, 2003. 

Married to Eliot Battle for 52 years. The couple had four children.

Earned a bachelor's degree in speech and drama from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University; master's degree in education an education specialist degree and an doctorate in education from MU.

Honorary doctorate from Lincoln University, where she served as president of the Board of Trustees.

Full text

Muriel Williams Battle and her husband, Eliot, helped to integrate Columbia Public Schools during the late 1950s and 1960s. The couple moved to Columbia in 1956 to take jobs at Douglass School, which served the African-American student population before integration. The school later became an alternative high school for the district. 

Battle was the first African-American teacher at West Junior High School, where she later became principal. She was the first female assistant superintendent for secondary education in Columbia. She spent 40 years working in the Columbia school district.

She was involved in numerous national, state and local boards, including the President's Task Force for Drug Free Schools and the Stephens College Board of Trustees. She received the Outstanding University of Missouri Alumni Award from the MU College of Education. She was named a Missouri Pioneer in Education by the state Department of Education.

In 2000, she and her husband were named Outstanding Citizens of the Year by the city.

Links and sources

Muriel Battle recommended as name for new Columbia high school, 2010 Missourian article

Muriel Williams Battle approved as name for new high school, 2010 Missourian article

City to honor Battle, renew monument, 2003 Missourian article

Missourian coverage of the new high school to be named for Battle

Vox takes a look at the numbers behind Muriel Battle High

Updated: March 1, 2012

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