By Keishera Lately
LINCOLN UNIVERSITY – If you don’t know Stripes, you don’t know LU.
Because the spirit-filled mascot has seemingly been around forever, many members of the Blue Tiger Nation don’t know how – or when – Stripes arrived on campus. The story began years ago, but first a little lesson on Missouri’s oldest historical black college and university (HBCU).
Lincoln was founded in 1866 by African-American veterans of the American Civil War. Around the 1950s the campus was known as the Harvard of the Midwest, mainly because it was one of the best HBCU’s in the region.
Enrollment began to more than double with a large diversity of students. With enrollment rates rising, students began to participate in athletics and organizations. With so much involvement, people of the community started to notice and wanted to support the institution. The only problem was that local newspapers were not covering the changes on the campus.
When stories did begin to get covered, a local news reporter of the News-Tribune began to call Lincoln the Blue Tigers because the larger University of Missouri in Columbia were known as the Mizzou Tigers. It was how outsiders could distinguish between LU and MU.
Although Lincoln has always been represented by blue, it wasn’t until the early 1970s when they adopted the “Blue Tiger.” Eventually the tiger was officially named Stripes, which has evolved into what he looks like today.
“We’re the only one with the Blue Tiger theme,” said Lincoln University Archivist Mark Schleer. Some would think this is what makes the school unique.
Whenever you see Stripes at the next campus activity, don’t be afraid to greet him!