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The First HBCU: Cheyney University of Pennsylvania



Historical Black colleges have always played an essential part in African-American students' education and success, from the missionaries that taught slaves to the various trade schools founded in the early 20th century. Some HBCUs, however, have significantly more history than others. There are roughly more than 100 HBCUs in the US, and many of those institutions have served African-American students for more than one hundred years. Today we'll take time to acknowledge the people, places, and traditions that have shaped the first HBCU.


Richard Humphreys, a philanthropist, arrived in Philadelphia in the year of 1764. Humphreys felt that African-Americans needed trade schools that would adequately prepare them for the job market, so he dedicated about one-tenth of his estate to create a new kind of institution. The historic Cheyney University of Pennsylvania was founded in 1837, and it is currently recognized by many as the oldest HBCU in the United States.


With more than 100 HBCUs in the country, several colleges came about after 1837. That includes the historic Lincoln University of Pennsylvania in 1854, the first HBCU giving college degrees, the Wilberforce University in 1856, was the first college operated by African Americans, and Harris-Stowe State University 1857, which focused primarily on education and teaching classes.

Shaw University in North Carolina would become the first HBCU to follow the events of the Civil War. The American Missionary Association and the Freedmen's Bureau established numerous historically black colleges. Even more, schools developed due to the second Morrill Act in 1890. It asked states to give land grants to institutions to admit black students. However, only if there wasn't another local option that didn't take race into account for admissions.

Many famous names attended HBCUs, including Martin Luther King Jr., Oprah Winfrey, Michael Strahan, Thurgood Marshall, and the Tuskegee Airmen.

All HBCUs have a comprehensive history in the US. as they all had to be established before 1864. Historically Black Colleges and Universities are steep in their history of laws, civil rights, and the Civil War.