North Carolina Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Prior to the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865, the majority of African Americans in the United States were enslaved persons living in the southern states. Education for African Americans was sparse, especially in the South with laws such as North Carolina's that prohibited teaching enslaved persons to read and write. It was a rare occurrence for an African American to be literate. While there were a few schools dedicated to African American education in the North prior to the Civil War, the first college available to African Americans in the South was Shaw University, which opened its doors in 1865. A number of institutions dedicated specifically for the education of African Americans were founded in the era immediately following the Civil War and others followed when segregation limited equal access to education. These schools are often known as Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or "HBCUs".

North Carolina has twelve historically black colleges and universities, including the oldest in the South, Raleigh's Shaw University, founded in 1865, and North Carolina's newest HBCU, North Carolina Central University, founded in 1910 in Durham. Ten of these schools continue to operate today. The landmark study commissioned by UNCF—HBCUs Make America Strong: The Positive Economic Impact of Historically Black Colleges and Universities—makes it clear: HBCUs are economic engines in their North Carolina communities and beyond, generating substantial economic returns year after year. HBCU faculty, employees and students produce—and consume—a wide range of goods and services, which spurs economic activity on and beyond campus. The result? More jobs, stronger growth and more vibrant communities. Meanwhile, North Carolina’s workforce is bolstered by a steady supply of highly trained and success-oriented HBCU graduates. The positive economic impact of North Carolina’s HBCUs is large and lasting. The numbers (based on 2014 data) tell the story.

Macedonia New Life Church is a predominantly African-American congregation of approximately 864 worshippers. Our church is rooted in the Lordship of Jesus Christ and anchored to the solid rock of Faith. In worship, fellowship, and service, God is praised and exalted. Our ministry is "holistic" in that we minister to the spirit, mind, and body of those in our care. Our ministry touches the lives of thousands each week through worship services, Bible Studies, television, and print media ministries. Our evangelistic outreach brings needed assistance to many persons in our community and elsewhere.

Our Purpose Statement "To be a light on a hill, helping people to see, seek and serve Jesus Christ." To achieve our "mission" we call each disciple of our church family to personally and intentionally commit to a "5 Step Strategy" that will enable each of us to fulfill this mission and L.I.G.H.T. the way to Christ. L.I.G.H.T. (Live, Invest, Give, Help, Take)

Shaw University

Shaw University, founded in Raleigh in 1865, was the first African American institution of higher learning in the South and one of the first in the nation. The university had its beginnings in December 1865, when Henry Martin Tupper, a white educator from Monson, Mass., started a class in theology for the purpose of teaching former slaves how to read and interpret the Bible. From this class evolved the Raleigh Institute (1866), later changed to Shaw Collegiate Institute (1870) and finally incorporated as Shaw University (1875). The school was named for its foremost benefactor, Elijah Shaw of Wales, Mass. The private, Baptist-affiliated liberal arts institute has always been open to both men and women. This coeducational status was assured with the construction in 1873 of Estey Hall, the first dormitory in the nation devoted exclusively to housing African American women.

Shaw University graduated its first college class in 1878, its first medical school class in 1882, its first law class in 1890, and its first pharmacy class in 1893. The school also had a normal (high school) department, which was changed to the Education Department in 1909. With the discontinuation of the normal department and professional schools (between 1909 and 1926), Shaw became the first African American institution in the South to be devoted exclusively to college and theological work., “North Carolina Historically Black Colleges and Universities”, accessed January 31, 2021., “The Economic Impact of North Carolina’s HBCU’s” accessed January 31, 2021.

Fayetteville State University

Fayetteville State University had its beginnings in 1867, when seven progressive African American citizens paid $140 for a lot on Fayetteville's Gillespie Street and converted themselves into a self-perpetuating board of trustees to maintain the property as a permanent site for the education of African American children in the area. Gen. O. O. Howard, an early supporter of African American education, erected a building on the site, and the school was named the Howard School in his honor.

In 1877 the state legislature provided for the establishment of a normal school for the education of black teachers. Several areas of the state competed for this first state-supported academy, but the Howard School was selected because of its successful record. It became a teacher training institution known as the State Colored Normal School. In 1929 all high school work was discontinued at the Normal School, and in May 1937 the State Board of Education authorized its designation as a four-year college with authority to grant the bachelor of science degree in elementary education. The name of the institution was changed to Fayetteville State Teachers College in 1939. Under the leadership of James Ward Seabrook, president from 1933 to 1956, the school continued to progress. Another name change, to Fayette State College, occurred in 1963 after several addition to its physical plant.

Johnson C. Smith University

Johnson C. Smith University, a historically African American institution associated with the Presbyterian Church, was established in Charlotte in 1867 as a "freedman's school" under the auspices of the Catawba Presbytery. Two white ministers, Samuel C. Alexander, a Pennsylvania native, and Willis L. Miller, a former slaveholder and Confederate soldier, proved instrumental in the school's founding. They were assisted in this endeavor by a gift of $1,400 from Philadelphian Mary Duke Biddle, widow of Union major Henry J. Biddle. The school was situated on eight acres of land in northwest Charlotte donated by former Confederate colonel William R. Myers.

From 1867 through 1923, the school was known first as the Henry J. Biddle Memorial Institute and later as Biddle University. In 1891 Daniel Sanders became the first African American to head Biddle University. Born a slave in South Carolina, Sanders had been educated at Western Theological Seminary in Allegheny, Pa., and as a pastor and public school principal in Wilmington had produced the African-American Presbyterian.

The university implemented a teacher training curriculum in English, history, language, music, and science in 1912. During the 1920s, after a tragic fire, Biddle received $720,000 from Jane Berry Smith, widow of prominent Pittsburgh pharmacist and industrialist Johnson C. Smith. The Smith family's most lasting monument was the University Church, which was built in 1929 and remains a center for religious activities. In 1923, in response to the family's generosity, the trustees changed the name of the university to Johnson C. Smith University. In 1924 tobacco magnate James Buchanan Duke established the multimillion-dollar Duke Endowment, naming Johnson C. Smith University as the recipient of 4 percent of the endowment's income.

In 1925 the university was accredited by the North Carolina Department of Education as a four-year college, and two years later the school's teacher education graduates were certified in every southern state. In 1928 Johnson C. Smith University implemented a two-year premedical curriculum, and the next year the school discontinued its high school curriculum. In 1932 the university witnessed the beginnings of coeducation when, as a result of a reciprocity agreement, Barber-Scotia Junior College, a historically black school for women in Concord, began sending its graduates to Johnson C. Smith to complete their degrees; this arrangement would last until 1941, when Johnson C. Smith began admitting female first-year students.

In 1994 Dorothy Cowser Yancy, a Johnson C. Smith alumna with a Ph.D. in political science from Atlanta University, became the first female president of the university. Her tenure was marked by a successful $50 million fund-raising campaign and by joint research ventures with several leading universities. Johnson C. Smith maintains international studies agreements with Al Akhawayn University and Mohammed V University (Morocco), Moscow State Institute of Public Policy, Moscow State University, Oxford University, the University of Cape Coast (Ghana), and the University of Swinburne (Australia).

Johnson C. Smith has had a number of notable firsts since its founding. Biddle University was the first southern four-year institution to have a black professor and a black president. An 1892 football contest between Biddle and Livingstone College (Salisbury) was the first black intercollegiate football game. Johnson C. Smith was the first historically black institution in North Carolina to construct a gymnasium (1928); it entered the Colored (now Central) Intercollegiate Athletic Association in that year. The school was also the first black college in North Carolina to obtain accreditation from the Southern Association. The school in the early 2000s enrolled approximately 1,400 students and had 80 faculty members.

Saint Augustine’s University

Saint Augustine's College in Raleigh was founded in 1867 as Saint Augustine's Normal School and Collegiate Institute for blacks. The school was created through the joint efforts of the Freedman's Commission of the Protestant Episcopal Church and a group of clergy and laymen of the Diocese of North Carolina. The normal school began operations early in 1868 in a facility lent to them by the U.S. Freedman's Bureau. However, before the year was over a new structure had been built on land owned by the institute.

The school began to receive regular support from the national Episcopal Church by 1907. By 1928 it had evolved into a full four-year college, which graduated it first class in 1932. Harold L. Trigg was named the college's first African American president in 1947.

Saint Augustine's College has remained committed to providing the highest quality education possible for its more than 1,800 students. The college continues to be closely associated with the Protestant Episcopal Church and seeks to develop the highest ethical and moral values in its undergraduates. The modern-day school offers degrees in 31 distinct disciplines and emphasizes student preparation for graduate studies and careers. Courses also include computer science, radio broadcast journalism, and physical therapy. Students come from 31 states, the District of Columbia, and 22 foreign countries. Saint Augustine's was the first historically black college to develop on-campus commercial radio (WAUG-AM 750) and television (WAUG-TV 68) stations.

Bennett College

Bennett College, in Greensboro, began in 1873 as a coeducational academy for African American youth. The school was founded through the motivation of newly freed slaves, but the Freedman's Aid and Southern Education Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church assumed responsibility for its support. Philanthropist Lyman Bennett gave the first $10,000 to purchase land and erect a building large enough to house classrooms and also serve as a dormitory. Shortly thereafter he died of pneumonia, and the school was named Bennett Seminary in his honor. The seminary achieved college status in 1889 and began graduating both men and women who assumed positions of leadership in all walks of life. Two of the first African American bishops in the Methodist Episcopal Church were graduates of Bennett College.

During the early part of the twentieth century, the Women's Home Missionary Society decided to build an academy for the education of young black females. To assist the venture, the church's Board of Education offered Bennett College for this purpose. Thereafter the school was operated jointly by the Missionary Society and the Board of Education. In 1926 the school was reorganized solely to educate women. That same year Bennett became a senior college with a physical plant that consisted of nine buildings and 38 acres, serving 151 high school and 10 college students. In 1930 the school graduated its first college class of four women. Several thousand women graduates followed through the years.

By the early 2000s Bennett College was a fully accredited four-year liberal arts college that continued to serve primarily young African American women. Special features of the college include an integrated program in women's studies and intensive personal counseling, academic advising, and career guidance services. The school also offers satellite telecommunications programming to enhance curricular offerings and uses cooperative arrangements with neighboring institutions for enrollment in Army/Air Force ROTC and for dual degree programs in electrical or mechanical engineering and nursing. Bennett provides interdisciplinary studies in communications media and public relations; learning laboratories to reinforce classroom experiences; computer-assisted instruction; and intercollegiate athletics.

Livingstone College

Livingstone College in Salisbury was founded by the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in 1879. Its two previous names were Zion Wesley Institute and Zion Wesley College. The institute was named in 1887 in honor of the great Christian missionary to Africa, philanthropist, and explorer David Livingstone. Its first president, Charles Joseph Price, was a noted scholar, preacher, and orator who attracted students and funding to the college until his death in 1893. Beginning with a single building and 40 acres of land, the campus has grown to over 300 acres containing more than 18 brick buildings.

Livingstone consists of two schools: an undergraduate College of Arts and Science and Hood Theological Seminary, a graduate school of theology. The college supports high intellectual, cultural, and moral standards based upon sustaining values emanating from the Judeo-Christian ideal. To provide this, the college offers a coordinated program of liberal arts and career-oriented curricula with cocurricular activities through which the student may acquire competencies and skills necessary to function responsibly in society. Livingstone remains under the auspices of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. By the early 2000s it had approximately 867 undergraduates served by 81 faculty members.

Kittrell College

Kittrell College was established in 1886 in Vance County by the African Methodist Episcopal Church as a normal and industrial school to train African American male youth. Additional support in its early years came from church groups in Virginia and Pennsylvania. The name of the institution changed three times, becoming Kittrell College in 1901. The original wooden buildings of the campus were destroyed by fires, and support to replace the old structures came from Benjamin N. Duke. Duke provided funds for the old buildings of Trinity College (later Duke University's East Campus) in Durham to be dismantled and moved to the Kittrell campus, where they were reassembled.

From its beginning, Kittrell offered work-study programs to enable students of limited financial means to gain a higher education. The college offered a two-year course in either a terminal vocation or in work that could be credited toward a bachelor's degree. In 1975 its enrollment was 396. Soon thereafter, the school experienced severe economic problems and was forced to close.

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (North Carolina A&T) in Greensboro was created as the Agricultural and Mechanical College for the Colored Race by the General Assembly in March 1891. The college really began operation the previous year as a result of the Morrill Act (1890), which furnished federal funds to be allocated in biracial school systems. The North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts for whites in Raleigh had been created by the General Assembly in 1887 and was ready to receive its share of funds by the fall of 1890. First, however, it was necessary to provide for a school of the same type for African American students. The board of trustees of the white school was empowered to make temporary arrangements to satisfy this requirement, and a plan was worked out whereby the college for African Americans was operated as an annex to Shaw University in Raleigh from 1890 through 1893.

Lacking a state-supported educational institution for African Americans in central Piedmont North Carolina, a group of interested citizens in Greensboro asked to have the college moved there. The group donated a 14-acre site for the school and $11,000 to aid in constructing buildings. This amount was supplemented by $2,500 from the General Assembly. The first building was completed in 1893, and the college opened on its own campus that fall.

In 1915 the name of the school was officially changed to the Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina. In 1967 the General Assembly designated the college a regional university, and North Carolina A&T joined the consolidated University of North Carolina System in 1972. It is the largest of the historically African American colleges in North Carolina and is home to one of the state's three engineering colleges. Nearly 90 percent of the state's African American professionals and paraprofessionals in agriculture are graduates. Moreover, more than half of the state's black teachers and principals are among its alumni. By the early 2000s, North Carolina A&T was a thriving public university with a student body of approximately 8,500. The school is comprised of a college of arts and sciences, a college of engineering, and six professional schools. It maintains extensive research programs in engineering, transportation, and agriculture. The school's physical plant occupies a 200-acre main campus near downtown Greensboro and a 600-acre research farm.

Elizabeth City State University

Elizabeth City State University in Elizabeth City was founded in 1891 as the Normal and Industrial School when the General Assembly passed a bill introduced by Hugh Cale, an African American legislator from Pasquotank County. The institution was established for the specific purpose of "teaching and training teachers of the colored race to teach in the common schools of North Carolina." Under the school's first principal and later president, Peter Weddick Moore, the institute grew both academically and physically in its first years.

In 1937 the school became a four-year teachers’ college, and the name was changed to Elizabeth City State Teachers College. The expanded school granted its first bachelor's degrees in 1939 in elementary education. In 1972 it became a constituent institution of the consolidated University of North Carolina System, and its current name was formally adopted.

By the early 2000s Elizabeth City State University offered 34 baccalaureate degree programs in the basic arts and sciences, selected professional and preprofessional areas, and an Advanced Master's Degree in Elementary Education through four schools-the School of Arts and Humanities, the School of Business and Economics, the School of Education and Psychology, and the School of Mathematics, Science and Technology. The institution also maintains a nursery school and kindergarten and offers degrees in such fields as geology, physics, accounting, criminal justice, industrial technology, political science, music, merchandising, computer science, and middle grades education. Elizabeth City State has an interracial, international faculty teaching more than 2,000 students from a wide range of geographic and ethnic origins.

Winston-Salem State University

Winston-Salem State University was founded in Winston-Salem as the Slater Industrial Academy, a school for African Americans, on 28 Sept. 1892. Housed in a one-room frame structure, the school had 25 pupils and 1 teacher. In 1895 it was recognized by the state of North Carolina, and two years later it was chartered by the General Assembly as Slater Industrial and State Normal School.

In 1925 the General Assembly recognized the school's leadership in the field of elementary teacher training by granting it a new charter, extending its curriculum above normal school level, and changing its name to Winston-Salem Teachers College. The school thus became the first African American institution in the nation to grant degrees for teaching in the elementary grades. In 1953 a nursing school was established at the college, awarding graduates the degree of bachelor of science. The state legislature once again revised the college's charter in 1957 by authorizing expansion of the curriculum to include secondary education and any other specific types of training as directed and determined by the State Board of Higher Education. The general assembly also approved changing the school’s name from Winston-Salem Teachers College to Winston-Salem State College in 1963, and to Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) in 1969. Two years later, the General Assembly reorganized higher education in North Carolina, and in 1972 WSSU became one of the 16 constituent institutions of the University of North Carolina System.

By the early 2000s WSSU enrolled more than 2,900 students from all over the United States and many foreign countries. Majors are offered in traditional fields such as English and business and in newer fields such as commercial music and sports management. Graduate programs are offered through an interinstitutional arrangement. The school's 94-acre campus is the home of a sculpture garden and the Diggs Art Gallery. The university also owns a 250-acre camp, Camp Robert Vaughn, located about 20 miles from the main campus.

North Carolina Central University

North Carolina Central University in Durham was the first state-supported liberal arts college for African American students in North Carolina. It was chartered as a private institution in 1909 and opened its doors to students in July 1910. Its founder, James E. Shepard, served as its first president. In the beginning the college was known as the National Religious Training School and Chautauqua. Its purpose was the development of young African American men and women into citizens with fine character and sound academic training. In 1915 the school was sold and reorganized as the National Training School. During this period Mrs. Russell Sage, a wealthy New York philanthropist, was a generous contributor to the school. In 1923 the General Assembly appropriated funds for the purchase and maintenance of the school, making it a publicly supported institution that operated as the Durham State Normal School. Two years later the legislature again renamed the college, and it became the North Carolina College for Negroes. Its mission was to offer African American youth of the region a liberal arts education and prepare graduates to become future teachers and principals of secondary schools.

The school graduated its first class as a four-year college in 1929 as a result of the sincere interest of Governor Angus W. McLean, generous gifts from Durham industrialist and philanthropist Benjamin N. Duke, and contributions from Durham citizens. In 1930 state appropriations made it possible for the school to expand its physical plant and improve its educational facilities. By 1939 the General Assembly authorized the establishment of graduate work in liberal arts and the professions. The School of Law began operation in 1940, and the School of Library Science was created in 1941. Because of this growth and expansion, the legislature changed the name of the institution to North Carolina College at Durham.

In 1969 the legislature again changed the name of the college to reflect its new university status. In 1972 North Carolina Central University became a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina System. The university in the early 2000s enrolled nearly 6,000 students earning degrees in a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate programs on its 100-acre campus.

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