Black History 365 – First African-American woman school principal

Fanny Jackson Coppin

Fanny Jackson Coppin


In 2016 for my Black History 365 series, 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:

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.

If you have any other sources or additional information for this topic, please share in the comments. I also welcome any and all comments and discussion. Thanks for reading!

For today’s entry:

1869: First African-American woman school principal: Fanny Jackson Coppin (Institute for Colored Youth)

From Wikipedia:

Fanny Jackson Coppin (January 8, 1837 – January 21, 1913) was an African-American educator and missionary and a lifelong advocate for female higher education.

Born an American slave, Fanny Jackson’s freedom was purchased by her aunt at age 12. Fanny Jackson spent the rest of her youth working as a servant for author George Henry Calvert, studying at every opportunity. In 1860, she enrolled in Oberlin College in Ohio, the first college in the United States to accept both black and female students. She writes in her autobiography:

“The faculty did not forbid a woman to take the gentleman’s course, but they did not advise it. There was plenty of Latin and Greek in it, and as much mathematics as one could shoulder. Now, I took a long breath and prepared for a delightful contest. All went smoothly until I was in the junior year in College. Then, one day, the Faculty sent for me–ominous request–and I was not slow in obeying it. It was a custom in Oberlin that forty students from the junior and senior classes were employed to teach the preparatory classes. As it was now time for the juniors to begin their work, the Faculty informed me that it was their purpose to give me a class, but I was to distinctly understand that if the pupils rebelled against my teaching, they did not intend to force it. Fortunately for my training at the normal school, and my own dear love of teaching, tho there was a little surprise on the faces of some when they came into the class, and saw the teacher, there were no signs of rebellion. The class went on increasing in numbers until it had to be divided, and I was given both divisions. One of the divisions ran up again, but the Faculty decided that I had as much as I could do, and it would not allow me to take any more work.”



  1. Perkins, Linda M. “Heed life’s demands: The educational philosophy of Fanny Jackson Coppin”. Journal of Negro Education (1982): 181-190.
  2. Perkins, Linda Marie. Fanny Jackson Coppin and the Institute for Colored Youth, 1865-1902. Vol. 9. Garland, 1987
  3. Reminisces of School Life, Hints on Teaching, Philadelphia, PA 1913
  4. History of Coppin State University

External links


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