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Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Cookman Institute: Pioneering Institution That Proceeded Historically Black Colleges & Universities

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Cookman Institute – Founded in 1872

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. Continue reading “Cookman Institute: Pioneering Institution That Proceeded Historically Black Colleges & Universities”

Background of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU)

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Cheyney University
1905 Physics Class at Cheyney Unversity (Founded as Institute For Colored Youth, Cheyney was the first institution of higher learning for blacks in the U.S.)


 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)”

Lincoln University: First Degree Awarding Historically Black College (HBCU) in the U.S.

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Lincoln University
Lincoln University

Lincoln University is the first degree awarding historically black college and university in the United States. Located in Pennsylvania, it was founded in 1854, by John Miller Dickey and his wife Sarah Emlen Cresson. It was originally founded as Ashmun Institute; named after religious leader and social reformer, Jehudi Ashmun to provide education to young men of African descent. It is

John Dickey served as the first president of the university. The name was changed from Ashmun Institute to Lincoln University in 1866 after the assassination of President Lincoln. Lincoln University’s first African American president, Dr. Horace Mann Bond was appointed in 1945. The university began accepting female students in 1952. It is affiliated with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and is considered a state run coeducational accredited university. Famous alumni include poet, Langston Hughes, Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall, and microbiologist Hildrus A. Poindexter know for his work and research of tropical diseases. Nigeria’s first president, Nnamdi Aikiwe and the first Prime Minister of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah are also graduates.

In 1946, Nobel Prize winning physicist, Albert Einstein visited Lincoln University and gave a speech in which he called racism, “a disease of white people” and further added that he, “did not intend to be quiet about it”. Einstein was given an honorary degree by the University. Lincoln University current has about 2,000 students.

Albert Einstein lecturing on the theory of relativity at Lincoln University in 1946
Albert Einstein lecturing on the theory of relativity at Lincoln University in 1946


Did you miss our earlier post?  Click here to learn about black inventor Mary Beatrice Davidson Skinner!

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