Brescia University is hosting a public talk with 1960 alumnus Wesley Acton on October 20. Acton was the first African-American to teach in an integrated school in Daviess County.
The event will begin at 6 p.m. in Taylor Lecture Hall. Dr. Ashley Holland, Brescia University Assistant Professor of Education – Chair of School of Education, will serve as the interviewer.
“(Acton) has broken barriers in education and helped serve our community in multiple ways,” Holland said. “This event allows Acton to speak on his life, challenges, and give advice for the next generation of educators.”
Acton was born in 1937 in Ohio County to Levi and Cecil Collins Acton. The eighth of 11 children, he grew up in the rural Daviess County community of Pleasant Ridge where his father worked as a sharecropper. He attended George Washington Carver Elementary School and graduated from Western High School in 1955.
After plans to attend Kentucky State University didn’t materialize, Acton enrolled in Brescia College in Fall 1955. He graduated in 1960 with a bachelor of arts degree in history and a minor in English, meeting the requirements for Kentucky high school teacher certification. Later, he earned his master’s in education and Kentucky Rank One certification from Western Kentucky University.
In January 1961, Acton began his teaching career at St. William’s High School in Knottsville, becoming the first African-American to teach in an integrated school in Daviess County. He went on to teach at Thruston Elementary, Apollo Junior High School, and Burns Middle School before retiring in 1993. He continued to serve as a substitute teacher until 2020.
In addition to his teaching career, Acton has been involved with numerous community projects and organizations over the years. He was a co-founder of the Human Relations Commission in 1963 and was a founding board member of the Owensboro Area Museum. He has also worked with the H.L. Neblett Community Center, Kentucky Education Association, Owensboro NAACP, March of Dimes, the Kentucky Citizens Advisory Committee on Education, and more.
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