Black History: Special Delivery!!


Fannie Jackson-Coppin

Fannie Jackson Coppin was born enslaved in Washington DC. Her aunt purchased her freedom when she was 12 years old. As a teenager she worked as a domestic for author, George Henry Calvert. In 1860, she began taking classes at Oberlin College. It was the first college in the United States to accept both black and women students. During her time at Oberlin, Jackson exceled academically. She also joined the Young Ladies Literary Society. Jackson was also appointed to Oberlin’s preparatory department. With the civil war coming to a close, she also started a night school at the college to provide instruction to freed slaves.

Jackson graduated from Oberlin College in 1965 and became a high school teacher in Philadelphia. She was hired to teach at the Institute for Colored Youth (ICY). ICY was a high school for African American students. She was quickly promoted during the same year to principal of the Ladies Department. In 1869, she was again promoted. This time she would become principal for the entire school; making her the first African American woman to become a school principal. The school flourished under her leadership. During her tenure she expanded the schools industrial programs and also implemented a practice teaching system. She served in this role until 1906.

Besides, being an educator, she also provided housing for poor working women. Jackson also published articles in local newspapers championing the rights of women and blacks. Jackson would also go on to add missionary work to her resume. She began doing missionary work after she married, Rev. Levi Jenkins Coppin, an AME minister in 1881. He was appointed to the office of bishop in 1900. She journeyed to South African with her husband in 1902. There they founded a missionary school, called, Bethel Institute. She returned to Philadelphia after 10 years because of declining heath. Jackson-Coppin died in 1913. Coppin State University, founded in 1926 in Maryland is named in her honor.