As a part of the Return to the Arch Alumni Speaker Series, Brescia University will be hosting Wesley Acton ’60 on Thursday, October 20th. Acton was the first African American teacher in the Daviess County Schools System. Dr. Ashley Holland, Brescia University Associate Professor of Education – Chair of School of Education, will serve as the interviewer. This event will be a part of the University’s Alumni Homecoming and Family Weekend events. The discussion will begin at 6 PM in Taylor Lecture Hall.
Wesley Acton ’60 was born in 1937 in Ohio County to Levi and Cecil Collins Acton. The eighth of eleven children, he grew up in the rural Daviess County community of Pleasant Ridge where his father worked as a share cropper. He attended George Washington Carver Elementary School and graduated from Western High School in 1955.
After plans to attend HBCU Kentucky State University didn’t materialize, Acton enrolled in Brescia College in the Fall of 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 would earn his Master’s in Education and Kentucky Rank One certification from Western Kentucky University.
In January of 1961, Acton began his teaching career at St. William’s High School in Knottsville, Kentucky, becoming the first African-American to teach in an integrated school in Daviess County. He went on to teach at Thurston Elementary, Apollo Junior High School, and F.T Burns Middle School, before retiring in 1993 after over 32 years of teaching. 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 Center, Kentucky Education Association, Owensboro NAACP, March of Dimes, the Kentucky Citizens Advisory Committee on Education, and much more.
Dr. Holland said of the event, “Having been an educator for over 15 years it is an honor to interview with Mr. Acton as part of this year’s Return to the Arch. He has broken barriers in education and helped serve our community in multiple ways. This event allows Acton to speak on his life, challenges, and give advice for the next generation of educators”. She continued with “He was my teacher in middle school. Not many get the chance to publicly share a celebration like this with a teacher who had a large impact on their life.”