Black History: Special Delivery!!
Launched on February 26, 1872, Cookman Institute was an early forerunner of the historically black colleges and universities. Rev. S.B. Darnell founded Cookman Institute in Jacksonville, FL. It was named after Rev. Alfred Cookman who was a Methodist Minister. Rev. Cookman donated funds toward construction of the new building. Cookman Institute was closely affiliated with Clark University. It was the first the educational institution for African Americans in Florida and remained so for quite some time. In operation for close to 50 years, Cookman Institute touched the lives of thousands of students. Many of Cookman’s first students were ex-slaves.
The school served a wide age range of students from children to the elderly. Both day time and evening classes were held. Elementary school level classes as well as high school level classes were offered. The school also taught courses in music, domestic science, sewing, public speaking, sewing, shoemaking, printing, business, and agriculture. A fire in 1901 destroyed the campus; resulting in the school being rebuilt at a different location. Cookman was also a fertile training ground for teacher preparation. Many students desiring to be educators went on to continue their studies at Clark University and other colleges. Cookman later merged with Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute which was started by Mary McCleod Bethune. The combined institutions became a historically black college and university (HBCU) Bethune-Cookman College.
The Encyclopedia of African-American Heritage, by Susan Altman, Copyright 1997, Facts on File, Inc. New York , ISBN 0-8160-3289-0