Silas Herbert Hunt was the first of the Six Pioneers involved in the integration of higher education in Arkansas and the South. Hunt was drafted into the U.S. Army following America’s entry into World War II. He served in Europe almost two years until receiving a serious injury at the Battle of the Bulge. After recovering, Hunt resumed his education at AM&N and graduated in 1947 with a BA in English. 

Hunt originally planned to attend the University of Indiana School of Law but changed his plans when he learned of a former classmate's legal battles with universities not admitting black students. Students of color were engaged in similar skirmishes across the South. The courage and determination of their peers led Hunt and his classmate Wiley Branton into the field to take action. On February 2, 1948, he enrolled at the University of Arkansas School of Law, thus becoming the first African American student admitted to the university since Reconstruction and the first black student to be admitted for graduate or professional studies at any all-white university in the former Confederacy.

Read more about Silas Hunt on U of A Portraits of Progress

Silas Hunt



Febuary 2nd


An Act to Establish Silas Hunt Day

In Arkansas, we now celebrate this day as a memorial holiday. Governor Mike Beebe, a graduate of the University of Arkansas School of Law, declared Feb. 2, 2007 Silas Herbert Hunt Day. The acts of Silas and our Six Pioneers are memorialized throughout campus to share the legacy provided by their intelligence and determination.

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Silas Hunt Legacy Award 

To honor Hunt, the university created the Silas Hunt Legacy Awards Celebration, first awarded in 2006. The event recognizes individuals and organizations that have had a significant impact on the U of A and the state – just as Hunt did.

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On Campus

Silas Hunt’s legacy can be found around campus in many ways. In 1993, Silas Hunt Hall was named. This building, located on Maple St., is home to the university’s office of admissions, the Registrar's office, the student accounts office and the office of financial aid. The Silas Hunt Memorial Sculpture is located between Old Main and the Pi Beta Phi Centennial Gate entrance.


Influence & Inspiration

Hunt's enrollment into a white Southern university since the Reconstruction era. He was the first to break the color barrier in higher education and begin the integration of colleges and universities across the South.

Six Pioneers

Black Pioneers: Silas H. Hunt

Portraits of Progress - Silas Hunt



Silas Hunt: A Documentary

Producer-director Erwin and his crew traveled seventeen thousand miles in twelve states, shot fifty-six hours of videotape, and found 2,500 documents and images. Narrated by Emmy-nominated actor Steve Harris (The Practice), the documentary has won five awards: an Aegis Winner’s Award, an Aurora Gold Award, a Telly Bronze Award, and a Platinum Ava Award. In 2008 it was nominated for an Emmy by the Mid-America Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.