Lincoln society photo
Joseph Cunningham, front center, sits with the Lincoln Society. Manchester’s Academic Center will be renamed after Cunningham and his sister, Martha.
Photo from MU Archives

Academic Center To Be Named after First Black Manchester Students

Amahri Moore

In honor of Manchester University’s first African American students Martha (Maddie) and Joseph Cunningham, President Dave McFadden will be renaming the Academic Center after them. The Academic Center is new in its current form, and was deliberately given a generic name when it opened, so the building could be named in honor of an individual or donor.

“The idea to name the Academic Center after Maddie and Joseph Cunningham is very recent,” McFadden said. “We’ve been telling the story of their experiences at Manchester for years, and the time just seemed right to recognize them in a more permanent way.”

McFadden wanted to share their stories with students of Manchester to ensure students understand the importance of what was happening and what struggles the Cunninghams went through. “In this moment in our country’s history where we are so polarized around racism, race and justice, we want to honor Maddie and Joseph,” McFadden said.

Students appear to be pleased. “What President McFadden is doing is really dope and empowering,” said Lilyana Joyner, a first-year student. “I’m glad to be attending a school that cares so much about this type of stuff.”

Indeed, Manchester students are not the only ones who are impressed with President McFadden’s decision. “I’ve been in college for two years now and have never seen something so honorable,” said Solaire Young, a current student at Saint Francis University. “I wish I had attended Manchester because of things like this. Your president made a choice that few colleges would have done, which was educating you all about the history, and honoring the history as well.”

McFadden confirmed that the full and new name of the center will be the Martha and Joseph Cunningham Academic Center.