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February Sixteen...

Violet Lewis, founded of Lewis Business College, and the first location on Indiana Street in Indianapolis.

Topics: African Americans, Civil Rights, Education, Human Rights, Women's Rights

LeMoyne College

In 1862, the American Missionary Association sent Ms. Lucinda Humphrey to Camp Shiloh to open an elementary school for freedmen and runaway slaves after the occupation of Memphis during the Civil War. The school, named Lincoln Chapel, was moved to Memphis in 1863 but was destroyed by fire in the race riots after the withdrawal of federal troops in 1866. The school was rebuilt and reopened in 1867 with 150 students and six teachers. The first years were challenging due to the toll that the yellow fever epidemic took on school personnel. In 1914, the school was moved to its present site on Walker Avenue, and the first building, Steele Hall, was erected on the new LeMoyne campus. LeMoyne became a junior college in 1924 and a four-year college in 1930. In March 1957, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. paid his first visit to Memphis and to our campus.

MISSION STATEMENT
LeMoyne-Owen College provides a transformative experience educating students for urban-focused leadership, scholarship, service and professional careers.

VISION
To be an exemplary historically black college providing an excellent liberal arts education that transforms urban students, institutions and communities.

Lewis College of Business (closed 2013)

At the height of the Great Depression jobs were hard to come by, especially for African-Americans who had moved to northern cities. This was worrying for Violet Lewis, a bookkeeper in Indianapolis, Indiana, who was concerned by the number of unemployed black youths she saw in the city. At the time, public and private higher education schools would not accept African American students, so in 1928, Lewis began offering classes in secretarial work at her house. As the school grew, it moved into a storefront, and the Lewis College of Business was founded. To make it through the Great Depression, tuition was set at $2.50 per week for the 20 to 25 students. The program grew in popularity as Lewis became an established figure in the local media and hosted a popular radio show.

In September of 1939, Lewis College opened its second branch in Detroit on West Warren Street, the first business school in the city to accept African American students. After Lewis realized that running both schools simultaneously would be difficult, she closed the Indianapolis location in 1940 to focus on the Detroit branch. As the school expanded to over 300 daily students through the 1940’s and 1950’s, it moved to Ferry Street near Wayne State University. The transition wasn't smooth - white residents living nearby sued to close the school in 1942 on the grounds that it was a business in a residential area, but Lewis converted the college into a nonprofit and the case was dismissed. Lewis Business College offered courses in typewriting, bookkeeping, stenography, penmanship, and office management. Graduates from Lewis found work at General Motors, Ford, Michigan Bell, and the city of Detroit. Another branch was established in Cleveland, Ohio in 1960, again being the first business school in the city to accept African American students.

The Lincoln University

Originally established as The Ashmun Institute, Lincoln University received its charter from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on April 29, 1854, making it the nation's first degree-granting Historically Black College and University (HBCU).

As Horace Mann Bond, ‘23, Lincoln’s first African American and an eighth president, so eloquently cites in the opening chapter of his book, Education for Freedom, this was “the first institution found anywhere in the world to provide a higher education in the arts and sciences for male youth of African descent.”

The story of Lincoln University dates back to the early years of the nineteenth century and to the ancestors of its founders, John Miller Dickey, and his wife, Sarah Emlen Cresson. The maternal grandfather of John Miller Dickey was a marble merchant in Philadelphia who made contributions to the education of African-Americans in that city as early as 1794. Dickey’s father was a minister of the Oxford Presbyterian Church. After serving as a missionary and preaching to the slaves in Georgia, John Miller Dickey became pastor of that same church in Oxford, Pennsylvania, in 1832. Sarah Emlen Cresson inherited a long tradition of service and philanthropy through the Society of Friends in Philadelphia. John Miller Dickey was active in the American Colonization Society, and in 1851 took part in the court actions leading to the freeing of a young African-American girl who had been abducted from southern Chester County by slave raiders from Maryland. At the same time, having been unsuccessful in his efforts to gain college admission to even the most liberal of schools for a young freedman named James Amos, Dickey himself undertook to prepare the young man for the ministry.

Lincoln University

At the close of the Civil War, soldiers and officers of the 62nd United States Colored Infantry, stationed at Fort McIntosh, Texas, but composed primarily of Missourians, took steps to establish an educational institution in Jefferson City, Missouri, which they named Lincoln Institute. The following stipulations were set for the school:

1. The institution shall be designed for the special benefit of the freed African-Americans;
2. It shall be located in the state of Missouri;
3. Its fundamental idea shall be to combine study and labor.

Members of the 62nd Colored Infantry contributed $5,000; this was supplemented by approximately $1,400, given by the 65th Colored Infantry. On January 14, 1866, Lincoln Institute was formally established under an organization committee. By June of the same year, it incorporated and the committee became a Board of Trustees. Richard Baxter Foster, a former first lieutenant in the 62nd Infantry, was named first principal of Lincoln Institute. On September 17, 1866, the school opened its doors to the first class in an old frame building in Jefferson City.

In 1870, the school began to receive aid from the state of Missouri for teacher training. In 1871, Lincoln Institute moved to the present campus. College-level work was added to the curriculum in 1877, and passage of the Normal School Law permitted Lincoln graduates to teach for life in Missouri without further examination. Lincoln Institute formally became a state institution in 1879 with the deeding of the property to the state. Under the second Morrill Act of 1890, Lincoln became a land grant institution, and the following year industrial and agricultural courses were added to the curriculum.
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