Trevor Noah to kick off UK’s 70-year anniversary of integration


The University of Kentucky announced a $500,000 investment into the campus’s mental health resources on Feb. 21, 2020. Photo by Rick Childress

Hailey Peters

Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah will be at the University of Kentucky on Friday, Aug. 30. 

Noah’s assembly is part of a “a series of events throughout the 2019-2020 academic year that commemorate UK’s 70 years of integration,” according to the original July news release about the event.

The talk comes 70 years after Lyman T. Johnson, UK’s first non-white student, enrolled at the university. Johnson was also the famous plaintiff that challenged the university to first open the school to African-American students.

Friday’s event, which is free for UK students and faculty, is the first event of the 70-year anniversary celebration. Organizers say Noah’s assembly is set initiate an important social justice and inclusion dialogue on campus.

Although Noah is most popularly known for his comedic personality on “The Daily Show,” he is also the author of the book “Born A Crime,” which discusses what growing up non-white in South Africa was like at the time of apartheid.

“As we commemorate the 70th anniversary of integration at UK this academic year, we could not think of any one better than Trevor Noah to kick off this event,” said UK’s Vice President for Institutional Diversity Sonja Feist-Price. “Many of [Noah’s] experiences parallel the lived realities of Blacks in this country. Lyman T. Johnson’s determination and legal battle for access to this university 70 years ago is an example of this dogged determination.”

The university’s Office for Institutional Diversity is the main orchestrator of the event. According to the office’s website, the assembly will be moderated by UK College of Education Dean Julian Vasquez Heilig and will feature several members of the UK faculty also speaking. 

The assembly is set to conclude with the granting of an honorary doctorate to Doris Wilkinson, a UK alumni and faculty member who was one of the first African Americans to graduate from UK and go on to be a faculty member at the UK College of Social Work.

Those on campus who have tickets to the event, say they are excited for what Noah will have to share with UK’s diverse community.

“I think I speak for a lot of students when I say that I’m excited for the show,” said sophomore psychology major Eryca Bowman. “I think UK does a good job with the guests it brings for students to listen to, but I especially love the idea of having someone as intelligent and funny as [Noah].”

Noah’s assembly will be in Memorial Coliseum at 9 a.m. on Friday, and tickets are required for entry. Following the assembly, Noah will be answering questions from audience members in the Singletary Center for the Arts. 

While tickets have been sold out, some reserved seats have been reopened, leaving room for further ticket sales. Students can purchase tickets through their LinkBlue accounts or at the Gatton Student Center.