These nine HBCUs are celebrating their 150th anniversaries in 2017
Find out how many of them were founded by former slaves
In 1867, nine historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) were established, which means 2017 represents 150 years of black excellence in education. These universities have produced academic scholars, top athletes, award-winning musicians and actors, politicians and everyday people who have gone on to impact the world. Here are the nine colleges and universities celebrating this special milestone, and few tidbits and facts about their founders, history and some of the things that make them unique.
Alabama State University was originally formed in Marion, Alabama, and named the Lincoln Normal School. The founders, known as the “Marion Nine,” were nine freed slaves who founded the school with $500 to purchase the land and lay the foundation. The school was converted from a junior college into a four-year college in 1928, and can boast several members of the civil rights movement as alumni. Some of them include the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and civil rights attorney Fred Gray.
The college began as Scotia Seminary, educating newly freed female slaves, until it merged with Barber Memorial College in 1930 to form Barber-Scotia College. One notable alumna is Mary McLeod Bethune, who attended when it was still a seminary. She went on to found Bethune-Cookman University, another private and historically black college. Barber-Scotia has undergone tough times in recent years, losing its accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 2004, as well as membership in the United Negro College Fund. This resulted in a lack of funding, and in 2016 it was forced to temporarily halt classes. The college reopened in October 2016, welcoming 12 new students.
Fayetteville State University was founded by seven black men, and is the second-oldest state-supported school in North Carolina. The university has gone by several names including The Howard School, North Carolina’s State Colored Normal School, Fayetteville State Teachers College, Fayetteville State College, and finally Fayetteville State University in 1969. Fayetteville State has a number of notable alumni in the sports and entertainment industries, including former NBA player Darrell Armstrong, professional wrestler Junkyard Dog, and comedian Affion Crockett.
Howard is in fact the real HU by one year (sorry, Hampton), and has one of the largest HBCU student populations. The university has produced Rhodes scholars, Truman scholars, Fulbright scholars, Picking Fellows and one Marshall scholar, just to name a few of the achievements of some of its accomplished students. Howard was founded by a Civil War hero, Gen. Oliver O. Howard, who intended it to be an institution that would educate African-American clergymen in theology. Notable alumni include the first black Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall, Nobel Prize-winning writer Toni Morrison, and actors Phylicia Rashad, Taraji P. Henson and Anthony Anderson. Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton’s younger brother, Caylin, is planning on playing on the football team at Howard.
Johnson C. Smith was founded by Rev. S.C. Alexander and Rev. W.L. Miller, and was originally named Biddle Memorial Institute before its current name came to be in 1923. Biddle Memorial Hall sits on the highest point in Charlotte, North Carolina, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. Johnson C. Smith University has produced a number of politicians, including Eva Clayton, one of the first African-Americans elected to the House of Representatives from North Carolina since 1898; Marvin Scott, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from Indiana in 2004, and Obie Patterson, former member of the Maryland House of Delegates. The university is also the alma mater of a number of athletes, including former NFL player Pettis Norman, and former Harlem Globetrotter Fred “Curly” Neal.
It may be best known as the alma mater of Martin Luther King Jr. (class of 1948), but there are several other important accolades that Morehouse has to be proud of. The college was founded by Rev. William Jefferson White as the Augusta Theological Institute, and was renamed Morehouse College in 1913 after Henry L. Morehouse. One of the most well-respected groups on campus is the Glee Club, which performed at Martin Luther King’s funeral, President Jimmy Carter’s inauguration, the 1996 Olympics and Super Bowl XXVVII. The Glee Club has only had three directors in school history. Other notable Morehouse Men are actor Samuel L. Jackson, movie director Spike Lee, Olympian Edwin Moses, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis Sullivan, former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher and former Atlanta mayor Maynard Jackson.
Morgan State University
Morgan State University was originally founded as the Centenary Biblical Institute, and was renamed Morgan College in 1890 to honor Rev. Lyttleton Morgan. It was a private institution until 1939 until the state of Maryland bought it to provide more academic opportunities for black students. Like Morehouse, music is a well-respected craft at Morgan State, which is evident through its choir. The Morgan State Choir has performed at the East Room of the White House and at the inauguration of former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, as well as internationally in countries such as Colombia and South Africa.
St. Augustine’s University began as a Normal School and Collegiate Institute, and was renamed from Saint Augustine’s Normal School to Saint Augustine’s School in 1893. The name was changed again to Saint Augustine’s Junior College in 1919, and to Saint Augustine’s College in 1928. The school officially became St. Augustine’s University in 2012. St. Augustine’s has a rich history in media and athletics. It was the first HBCU to own on-campus radio and television stations, and the track team has won 36 national championships since 1976. The coach of the track team, George “Pup” Williams, has also coached 39 Olympians, including three gold medalists.
Alabama’s oldest, private historically black college was founded by two former slaves, William Savery and Thomas Tarrant to educate children of former slaves. The marching band is largest student organization on campus, and recently performed at the inauguration of President Donald Trump. The band received $300,000 in donations for the trip to Washington, D.C. The trip itself cost $100,000, and the rest of the money will go to improving the band program.