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The Final Four...

Winston-Salem State University Donald Julian Reaves Student Activity Center - Woolpert

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

Wilberforce University

Wilberforce University is a four-year, fully accredited liberal arts institution offering 20 academic concentrations in business, communications, computing and engineering sciences, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences. Wilberforce University also offers dual degree programs in architecture, aerospace, and nuclear engineering. Through the University’s Adult and Continuing Education Program, we offer Credentials for Leadership in Management and Business (CLIMB), for individuals interested in completing their bachelor of science degrees in organizational management, health care administration and information technology.

Early in 1856, the Methodist Episcopal Church purchased property for the new institution at Tawawa Springs, near Xenia, Ohio. For many years the institution operated with great success. The Civil War in 1862, shifted enrollment and financial support, unfortunately facilitating the closing of the original Wilberforce in 1862, for a year. In March of the 1863, Bishop Daniel A. Payne of the African Methodist Episcopal Church negotiated to purchase the University’s facilities. Payne, a member of the original 1856 corporation, secured the cooperation of John G. Mitchell, principal of the Eastern District Public School of Cincinnati, Ohio and James A. Shorter, pastor of the A.M.E. Church of Zanesville, Ohio. The property was soon turned over to them as agents of the church. The University was newly incorporated on July 10, 1863. In 1887 the State of Ohio began to fund the University by establishing a combined normal and industrial department. This department later became Central State University. Wilberforce also spawned another institution, Payne Theological Seminary. It was founded in 1891 as an outgrowth of the Theological Department at Wilberforce University. Today, Wilberforce University continues to build on its sacred traditions in the 21st Century.

Wiley College

In 1873, less than eight years after all hostilities were quieted from the Civil War, the Freedman’s Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church founded Wiley College near Marshall, Texas for the purpose of allowing Negro youth the opportunity to pursue higher learning in the arts, sciences and other professions.

Named in honor of Bishop Isaac William Wiley, an outstanding minister, medical missionary and educator, Wiley College was founded during turbulent times for Blacks in America. Although African-American males were given the right to vote in 1870, intimidation of America’s newest citizens in the form of violence increased. The U.S. Supreme Court helped pave the way for segregation with the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision that approved of the “separate but equal” doctrine.

Bishop Wiley was born in Lewistown, Pennsylvania, on March 29, 1825. He became interested in the Christian ministry as a boy, joining the church at 14 years of age and became active in missionary work. At 18, he was authorized to preach under ministerial direction. Due to difficulties with his voice, he studied medicine and upon graduation from medical school became a medical and educational missionary in China. Wiley was elected bishop in 1864 and organized a Methodist conference in Japan. Bishop Wiley died on November 22, 1884 in his beloved China.

Winston-Salem State University

Winston-Salem State University was founded as Slater Industrial Academy on September 28, 1892. It began in a one-room frame structure with 25 pupils and one teacher. In 1895 the school was recognized by the State of North Carolina and in 1899 it was chartered by the state as Slater Industrial and State Normal School.

In 1925, the General Assembly of North Carolina recognized the school's curriculum above high school, changed its name to Winston-Salem Teachers College and empowered it under authority of the State Board of Education to confer appropriate degrees. Winston-Salem Teachers College thus became the first black institution in the nation to grant degrees for teaching in the elementary grades.

The School of Nursing was established in 1953 and awards graduates the bachelor of science degree. In 1963 the North Carolina General Assembly authorized changing the name from Winston-Salem Teachers College to Winston-Salem State College. A statute designating Winston-Salem State College as Winston-Salem State University received legislative approval in 1969. On October 30, 1971, the General Assembly reorganized higher education in North Carolina. On July 1, 1972, Winston-Salem State University became one of 16 constituent institutions of the University of North Carolina subject to the control of a Board of Governors.

Xavier University of Louisiana

Katharine Drexel was born into great wealth in Philadelphia in 1858. Her father was Francis Anthony Drexel, head of the Drexel Banking Company and her mother was Hannah Langstroth Drexel. Her mother died within weeks of Katharine’s birth leaving Francis with sole responsibility not only for Katharine but also for her older sister Elizabeth. A few years later, their father married Emma Bouvier. A younger sister, Louise, was added to the family 3 years later.

Katharine and her sisters were privileged not only by wealth, but also by faith and love. Their lives were permeated by the word and example of their parents who stressed the primacy of faith and the necessity of good stewardship.

Both of their parents died when all three girls were in their 20’s. They were devastated by both deaths but they were determined to carry on the legacy of their parents.

At the time of Francis’ death, the Drexel’s had amassed a $15 million fortune that today would probably be worth close to $300 million. In his will, Francis had put the money in trust and indicated that the income from the trust was to be equally divided by his daughters and their offspring, not their husbands. His intent was to ward off suitors who might be looking for money. If at the death of the third daughter, there were no surviving offspring, the principal of the trust was to be divided among a group of Philadelphia area charities that he designated.

In order to identify Xavier’s founding mission we need to return to the year 1915. That year, Archbishop Blenk of New Orleans approached Mother Katharine about the lack of Catholic higher education for African Americans. With the guidance of the Josephites, Archbishop Blenk was able to offer a plan: Southern University that had been located uptown on Magazine St. in New Orleans had been moved to Baton Rouge in 1912 due to pressure from White neighbors. Their abandoned building which was well suited to higher education was about to be auctioned to the highest bidder.

After prayer, consultation and a personal visit to see the property, Mother Katharine purchased the building and surrounding property through a third party. Old Southern—became St. Francis Xavier, named after a great missionary.

Xavier flourished from the beginning. By 1925 a Teachers College and College of Arts and Sciences had been established and by 1927 a College of Pharmacy had been added. As the college thrived and the high school also expanded, it became clear that additional space was needed. Property on Washington and Pine was purchased in 1929 and the new buildings were dedicated in 1932.
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