Morehouse College is a private historically black college (HBCU) for men. Morehouse opened its doors in 1867 to educated black males who were formerly enslaved to become ministers and teachers. It opened approximately 2 years after the close of the Civil War. Its original name was Augustus Institute and it was located in Augustus Georgia. The Augustus Institute relocated to Atlanta in 1879 and became the Atlanta Baptist Seminary. Classes were first held in the basement of Friendship Baptist Church. The school moved to its current location in the 1880’s after John D. Rockefeller donated land to the college.
Roberts v. The City of Boston was a court action litigated by attorney Charles Sumner, a white abolitionist lawyer, and Robert Morris, an African American lawyer and abolitionist in 1849. Morris was one of the country’s first African American attorneys. Slavery had been abolished in the 1700’s in the state of Massachusetts. So schools were not segregated. However, African American children faced much discrimination and mistreatment in the desegregated schools they attended. African American parents sought to improve treatment of their children in public schools. When this did not happen, they petitioned to have their own separate schools established in 1798. The initial request was denied by the state. However white philanthropic donors decided to fund the school. Two schools for blacks were established, one in 1820 and a second in 1831. New schools for white children continued to open and by the 1850’s there were only 150 and only 2 schools for black children. All of these schools were controlled by the State who appointed the General School Committee to provide oversight. The schools for blacks were not maintained well and were in poor condition compared to the schools for whites. Continue reading “Before Brown vs. Board of Education: Roberts v. City of Boston 1849”→
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. Continue reading “Fannie Jackson Coppin: 1st African American Female School Principal In The U.S.”→
Dr. Clarence “Skip” Ellis (1943-2014) earned a Ph.D in Computer Science from the University of Illinois. He was the first African American to gain a Ph.D in this area of study. A dedicated educator, he loved to teach students who were new to the field of study and who lacked experience. Ellis was born and raised on the south side of Chicago. Ellis was also instrumental in the development of “groupware” technology. This technology makes it possible for several people to collaborate on a document at the same time. His work made it possible for programs such as Google Docs and Sharepoint software to be developed. He is also credited with inventing the technology we now use to click “icons” on a computer screen to execute computer commands.
Mahala Ashley Dickerson (1912—2007) made history, becoming the first African American female attorney to be admitted to the Alaska and Alabama bar associations. Advocacy for the poor, women, and minorities was a hallmark of her legal career. Dickerson was born in Montgomery County, outside of Montgomery, Alabama. She had two sisters, Erna and Harriet. Dickerson attended Miss White’s School For Girls, which was also known as the Montgomery Industrial School for Girls. It was a private, K-8 school for African American girls. The school was started in 1886 by two white Christian educators, Alice White and H. Margaret Beard. White and Beard desired to provide an excellent education for African American girls as well as instill a sense of confidence a pride in the girls they educated. The school also promoted racial equality. The school’s curriculum focused on Christian morality, academic courses, and vocational education. All students were required to wear uniforms and were discouraged from wearing makeup and jewelry. Surprisingly students were encouraged to wear their hair, “natural” and not straighten it. It was here that Dickerson, would meet civil rights leader, Rosa Parks, who was also a student. The two would forge a life-long friendship. Continue reading “Mahala Ashley Dickerson: Legal Trailblazer And Life Long Friend Of Rosa Parks”→
Charles L. Reason (1818 – 1864)was active in efforts to gain voting rights for black men. Reason believed strongly that industrial education was very important for blacks to gain their freedom. He also valued classical education as well and started a teachers training college in New York City. Reason and Charles B. Ray started the Society for The Promotion of Education among Colored Children, a black organization approved by the state legislature to oversee schools for blacks in New York City.In 1849, the mostly white Free Mission College (renamed New York Central College) in Courtland County, NY hired Reason as an instructor making him the first African American to teach at a predominately white college. Continue reading “Charles L. Reason: 1st African American To Teach At A Predominately White College”→
The American Negro Academy (ANA) was founded in Washington DC in 1897. It was a society of black intellectuals committed to promoting, education, arts, and science among African Americans. The organization was founded by Alexander Crummell, a well know literary and religious figure. The ANA had five primary objectives: defense of the Negro against vicious assaults, publication of scholarly works, fostering higher education among negroes, formulation of intellectual taste, and the promotion of literature, science and art. It was the first organization of its kind in the United States to convene black artists and scholars from across the globe. Continue reading “The African American Negro Academy”→
Before the U.S. Civil War, there was no higher education system established for African American students. In fact, many states had laws in place which prohibited the education of blacks. The first school to provide higher education for African American students was the Institute For Colored Youth founded in 1837 which would later become Cheney University. Lincoln University located in Pennsylvania (1854) and Wilberforce University located in Ohio (1856) soon open their doors as well.
These new schools were often called, “colleges”, “universities”, or “institutes”. However, their major focus in their early years was to provide elementary and high school level education for students of various ages that had not had any formal education. With the Emancipation Proclamation, and subsequent freedom of slaves; many African Americans could now pursue educational opportunities that they had been denied while enslaved. It would not be until the early 1900’s that HBCU’s would offer college level courses. Continue reading “Background of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU)”→
Lewis College of Business, was the first African American owned and operated business school for blacks in Indianapolis, Detroit, and Cleveland. Its founder, Violet T. Lewis, was truly a trailblazer, launching the school during the Great Depression. Click the link to learn more about this unsung HBCU.