Every year for Black History Month I explore the obvious and not so obvious parts of American history that those called Black have taken part in. The things that we (Black people) have done other than be stolen from our homeland and made forced labor in a land foreign to us. I’m going to start this series by looking up the first time someone African-American did something and broke the color barrier in that activity or field. I’ll be starting with Wikipedia and working my way out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_African-American_firsts
I will be learning a lot of this as I go since I am a product of the standardized Euro/Anglo/Caucasian leaning public school system. I hope you enjoy learning with me. I’ll be going down the list chronologically as it appears in the Wikipedia article.
For my twentieth entry this month another two-fer:
1854: First institute of higher learning created to educate African Americans: Ashmun Institute in Pennsylvania, renamed Lincoln University in 1866.
1863: First college owned and operated by African Americans: Wilberforce University, Ohio.
The Lincoln University (LU) is the United States’ first degree-granting historically black university. Founded as a private university, since 1972 it is a public institution. It is located near the town of Oxford in southern Chester County, Pennsylvania. The university has two satellite campuses. They are: The Lincoln University – University City in Philadelphia and The Lincoln University – Coatesville, which opened in the city of Coatesville in Fall 2013. The Lincoln University provides undergraduate and graduate coursework to approximately 2,500 students. As former president Dr. Horace Mann Bond noted in his book Education for Freedom: A History of Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, with the college’s founding in 1854, “This was the first institution founded anywhere in the world to provide a higher education in the arts and sciences for youth of African descent.” The University is a member-school of Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
The Lincoln University has an impressive list of notable alumni which includes: U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall; Harlem Renaissance poet, Langston Hughes; musical legend, Cab Calloway; Medal of Honor winner and pioneering African-American editor Christian Fleetwood; the first President of Nigeria, Nnamdi Azikiwe; the first President of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah; song artist and activist Gil Scott-Heron; Tony Award winning actor Roscoe Lee Browne; Dr. Robert Walter Johnson, coach of Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe; and architect of the debate team portrayed in the film The Great Debaters, Melvin B. Tolson.
Today, The Lincoln University provides a liberal arts and science-based undergraduate core curriculum and select graduate programs to prepare students of every race and nationality.
For more information see also http://www.blackpast.org/aah/lincoln-university-1854
Wilberforce University is a private, coed, liberal arts historically black university (HBCU) located in Wilberforce, Ohio. Affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, it was the first college to be owned and operated by African Americans. It participates in the United Negro College Fund.
The founding of the college was unique as a collaboration in 1856 by the Cincinnati, Ohio Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church and the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME). They planned a college to provide classical education and teacher training for black youth. Leaders of both races made up the first board members.
When the number of students fell due to the American Civil War and financial losses closed the college in 1863, the AME Church purchased the institution to ensure its survival. Its first president, AME Bishop Daniel A. Payne, was one of the original founders. Prominent supporters and the US government donated funds for rebuilding after a fire in 1865. When the college added an industrial department in the late 19th century, state legislators could sponsor scholarship students.
The college attracted the top professors of the day, including W. E. B. Du Bois. In the 19th century, it enlarged its mission to include students from South Africa. The university supports the national Association of African American Museums to broaden the reach of its programs and assist smaller museums with professional standards.