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after slavery was abolished in the southern states, many white
missionaries and ministers made plans to establish churches and schools
to evangelize and educate former slaves. Although the missionaries faced
many challenges as they began to implement their plans, they remained
dedicated to the success of their mission. Many of the Historically Black
Colleges and Universities in existence today, including Johnson C. Smith
University, are the result of these endeavors.
|Rev. S. C Alexander
||Rev. W. L. Miller
Rev. Samuel C.
Reverend Sidney S. Murkland, and Rev.
Willis L. Miller ,were
among those people who were concerned about the welfare of the newly
freed slaves. These ministers organized and formed the Catawba Presbytery
on October 4, 1866. Through the influence of Reverend S. C. Logan,
Secretary of the Assembly’s Committee on Missions for the Freedmen,
Reverend Miller was given the opportunity to address the General Assembly
of the Presbyterian Church in order to present a proposal for the
establishment of a school. The proposal was approved and the plans for
the operation of the institution were drawn up during the meeting of the
Catawba Presbytery on April 7, 1867. The school, which was for men only,
was incorporated under the laws of North Carolina in the spring of 1867.
Rev. Samuel. C. Alexander and Rev. Willis L. Miller were appointed as
professors. Reverend Miller assumed the additional responsibility of
acting as the financial agent for the school.
Alexander organized the Colored Presbyterian Church of Charlotte, but
neither the church nor the school had found a suitable building. Reverend
Alexander purchased several lots on “C” Street in Charlotte, and a
building given by the Freedmen’s Bureau was transferred to this land.
This building served as both the school and as a place of worship for the
Colored Presbyterian Church of Charlotte. With approximately eight men,
the first session of class was held in this building on May 1, 1867.
response to an appeal to raise money to support the school, Mrs. Mary D.
Biddle of Philadelphia, donated $1,400.00. After learning about this
generous donation, members of the black community expressed their desire
to honor Mrs. Biddle by naming the school the Henry J. Biddle Memorial
Institute in memory of Mrs. Biddle’s husband, Major
Henry J. Biddle who
died from the injuries he received in a Civil War battle. The school was
chartered with this name by the legislature of North Carolina until 1876.
|Major Henry Biddle
||Colonel William R. Myers
order to obtain a more suitable location for the school, Reverend S. C.
Logan attempted to purchase eight acres of land from Colonel
William R. Myers.
Colonel Myers wanted to sell the school 130 acres of land for $3,000.00;
however, the school could not afford to purchase the entire 130 acres.
Initially, Colonel Myers resisted the idea of selling only eight acres of
land, but he later decided to donate the eight acres of land to the
school. With a gift of $10,000 given to the Freedman’s Bureau by Mrs.
Mary Biddle, the construction of two professors houses and the main
building began immediately on this property. These buildings were
completed in the fall of 1868 and the school relocated to its present
site on Beatties Ford Road in Charlotte. Biddle
Hall, built in 1883, and Carter Hall, built in 1895, are the oldest
buildings still standing on the original eight acres of land.
Stephen Mattoon became the first president of Biddle Memorial Institute
in 1870. Under Mattoon’s administration, the curriculum was expanded
and twelve additional acres of land were purchased. In 1883, the
legislature of North Carolina amended the school’s charter to change
the name of the institution from the Henry J. Biddle Memorial Institute
to Biddle University.
Mrs. Jane Berry Smith
Mr. Johnson C. Smith
1921 to 1929, Mrs.
Jane Berry Smith Mrs.
Jane Berry Smith of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania donated a total of $702,500
for the erection of nine buildings, and the establishment of a permanent
endowment. In recognition of her generosity, the school charter was
amended on March 1, 1923 changing the name of the institution to Johnson
C. Smith University in memory of her late husband, Mr.
Johnson C. Smith.
Financial support for the university grew tremendously when James B. Duke,
a wealthy business owner from Somerville, New Jersey established the Duke
on December 11, 1924 and included Johnson C. Smith University as one of
|James B. Duke
C. Smith University became a fully coeducational institution in 1932,
when women were admitted to both the
Junior and Senior Division.
In 1886, Biddle University appointed the first black
professor at a four-year college for blacks in the southern states.
In 1891, Biddle University elected the first black
president of a four-year college for blacks in the southern states.
The first black football game in the United States
was played by Biddle University against Livingstone College. This
historical game, which took place on December 27, 1892, marked a new
era in collegiate football.
In 1919, Biddle University became the first black
college in the south to offer professional courses in education in a
four-year college program.
Johnson C. Smith University received one of the
largest philanthropic endowments granted to a black college in 1924.
In 1928, Johnson C. Smith University erected the
first gymnasium on a black campus in North Carolina.
In 1932, Johnson C. Smith University became the first
black college in North Carolina to receive regional accreditation.
In 1938, Johnson C. Smith University became an
independent university when it was released from the Board of National
of JCSU Alumni:
Dr. Henry Hill, the only African American to become
President of the American Chemical Society.
Congresswoman Eva M. Clayton, the first African
American woman to represent the people of North Carolina in the United
States House of Representatives.
Dr. Eric Ran, President of World Vision
Edward R. Dudley, first African American ambassador
Mildred Mitchell-Bateman, Head of the Department of
Mental Health, State of West Virginia.
Dr. Dorothy Cowser Yancy, first female President of
Johnson C. Smith University.
Dr. James Costen, first African American Moderator of
the Presbyterian Church.