|Education in the ante bellum
19th century United States had two faces for Black folk. In the
south, academic education for slaves was absolutely forbidden. In the
north, there were scattered schools that educated Blacks in the
fundamentals of reading, writing and arithmetic, and the larger cities
such as Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore had academies and schools
of higher learning. Generally, higher
education was permitted for very few, and even then there were often
protests and threats from alumni and other financial supporters to withdraw funds.
An exception to the exclusionary policy toward Blacks was Oberlin University, which made it official policy in 1834-35 to have "free admission of all colored students on equal terms with whites." In 1853 the first school specifically for the education of Black males was founded by Presbyterians in Pennsylvania. Named Ashum Institute at that time, today Ashum Institute exists as Lincoln University.
Only after the south had been defeated in the Civil War was it possible for Blacks to legally attend school in that region. The Freedmen's Bureau, established by the federal government, provided the initial funds for the establishment of schools. Also, many churches from the north established Freedmen's Aid societies which provided funds for elementary education and other needs of the newly freed slaves. After the Freedmen's Bureau ended, higher education became a reality due to the efforts of churches, missionary societies, and other groups. Black ministers were involved in the founding of many of the schools.
The most honest way to describe what led to the development of so many Black colleges is that Blacks were simply not wanted in most White institutions, and if so, there were unofficial quotas limiting the number of Blacks to be admitted. Hence, the number of Black students in predominantly White colleges was always very small, usually single digit or low double digit small. Hence, the all-Black college became a necessity because of discrimination, racism, and the exclusion those activities cause.
Today, there are a few narrow-minded, misguided people, most of them White and some who are Black, who say that Black colleges are an anachronism or an aberration, and that they now represent discrimination and segregation. These people also say that until Black colleges are open to Whites as well as Blacks, they should not receive any more federal funding until there is better racial balance. Meanwhile, the reality is that Black Colleges never have excluded White students and most White folk did not and do not wish to attend an all Black or predominantly Black institution. Also, the forces of discrimination and racism that made Black colleges necessary are alive and well today.
Over the years some schools have closed and today there are 118 Black colleges. Many Black people who have made, and are making a tremendous, constructive impact on the entire society were educated in Black colleges. Thus, since the first Black colleges opened, their existence has been justified a million-fold.
The Black colleges established in the 19th century are listed in the chart below.
|1866||Wilberforce University||African Methodists|
|1868||Hampton University||General Samuel Chapman Armstrong|
|1868||Howard University||Freedman's Bureau|
|1869||Berea College||American Missionary Association|
|1870||Leland University||Mr. H. Chamberlain|
|1871||Fisk University||American Missionary Association|
|1872||Atlanta University||American Missionary Association|
|1873||Roger Williams University||Baptists|
|1874||Central Tennessee College||Methodists|
|1874||New Orleans University||Methodists|
|1874||Straight University||American Missionary Association|
|1878||Branch College||State of Arkansas|
|1880||Alcorn University||State of Mississippi|
|1882||Paine University||Southern Methodists|
|1883||Allen University||African Methodists|
|1883||Livingston College||Zion Methodists|
|1885||Talladega College||American Missionary Association|
|1885||Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute||State of Virginia|
|1885||Paul Quinn College||African Methodists|
|1890||Lincoln Institute||Black Soldiers and State of Missouri|
|1890||Morris Brown College||African Methodists|
|1893||Atlanta Baptist College||Baptists|
|1894||Georgia State Industrial College||State of Georgia|
|1894||Delaware State College||State of Delaware|
|1894||Philander Smith College||Methodists|
Source: The Education of the Negro, Education Report 1900 -1901