Throwback Thursday – Civil rights and education pioneer: the story of Frank O. Moxley

In observance of Black History Month, Throwback Thursday is sharing the inspirational story of Frank Otha Moxley, namesake of the F.O. Moxley Center. The first African American to earn a Master’s degree at WKU, former teacher, coach, and mentor, Moxley paved the way for African Americans in the Bowling Green community.

Born in June of 1908 to James and Hester Moxley in Bowling Green, Frank Otha, or F.O., Moxley understood the value of an education early in life. He earned a Bachelor’s degree from Wilberforce University in 1926, and began a career in education. He is credited with creating the guidance counselor position in Kentucky schools, and was the first black guidance counselor here. He went on to become the first African American to earn a Master’s degree at WKU, along with a doctorate at East Coast University in Florida.

He made an impact on students at both State Street School and High Street School, also coaching the State Street basketball team to a couple of championship tournaments. He was a mentor and leader for the African American community in Bowling Green, serving as a founding member for many minority groups during the heat of the Civil Rights era.

Moxley worked with the NAACP on a local and state level, helping establish Cumberland Trace Legal services. He was a strong servant on the American Civil Liberties Union team, and on the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Commission. He was a founder of the South Central Kentucky Minority Economic Development Council and inducted into the WKU Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 1998. Then named to the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights Gallery of Great Black Kentuckians in 2001.

He was married for over 50 years to Pearlee Goodbar, having three children. Moxley passed away in 2004 at age 96. His legacy lives on at the F.O. Moxley Community Center, the home of city youth programming, athletics, and fitness.