Post-Civil War America, also known as the Reconstruction Era, led to more than 4 million slaves being declared freed. The church, pre-and-post Civil War, increasingly became one of the strongest sources of institutional support for former slaves and oppressed African people in America. Church basements turned into centers of education, as well as serving as sites for spiritual development, political gatherings and social engagements. To pay homage to this history, Today’s Monday Morning MSI Line Up celebrates the faith-based pasts of the following HBCUs:
1. Paul Quinn College (African Methodist Episcopalian)
Paul Quinn College is the oldest Historically Black College in Texas. In 1872 the African Methodist Episcopalian (A.M.E.) Church founded the Connectional School for the Education of Negro Youth in Austin as a means to provide education to former slaves. In 1881, the college was chartered by the state of Texas and officials renamed the school for Bishop William Paul Quinn, a Methodist missionary. Quinn, born in Calcutta, India, was the fourth Bishop of the A.M.E. Church which was founded in Philadelphia.
2. Virginia Union University (Baptist)
After 1865, teachers and missionaries from the American Baptist Home Mission Society (ABHMS) arrived in Richmond, Virginia. For nearly three decades, these missionaries used the basement of Ebenezer Baptist Church to educate newly freed slaves, preparing them to become teachers and preachers. Following the surrender of the Confederacy in 1865, branches of the National Theological Institute in Washington, D.C. and Richmond decided to establish separate schools in Richmond to educate freed slaves. In 1899, these separate ABHMS institutions would merge to become Virginia Union University.
3. Morehouse College (Baptist)
In 1867, two years after the Civil War ended, Augusta Theological Institute was established in the basement of Springfield Baptist Church in Augusta, Georgia. Founded in 1787, Springfield Baptist is the oldest independent African-American church in the United States. The school’s primary purpose was to prepare black men for ministry and teaching. Today, Augusta Theological Institute is known as Morehouse College, which is located in Atlanta and has an international reputation for producing leaders who have influenced national and world history.
4. Shaw University (Baptist)
Shaw University was founded in 1865 by the American Baptist Home Mission Society of the Baptist Church to provide a theological education to freed Blacks. A theological class formed in the old Guion Hotel by Dr. Henry Martin Tupper, founder and first president of Shaw University, led to its creation. Elijah Shaw, a benefactor who gave the largest single contribution toward the construction of the university’s first building, became its namesake. At the same time the name of the school was changed to Shaw Collegiate Institute. This remained until 1875 when the school was chartered and incorporated by the State of North Carolina under the name of Shaw University.
5. Oakwood University (Seventh-day Adventist)
When the Seventh-day Adventist Church decided to educate Black students in the South, they established an industrial school in 1896, which became Oakwood College in 1943. The mission of Oakwood University, a historically black, Seventh-day Adventist institution, is to transform students through biblically-based education for service to God and humanity. Later renamed Oakwood University in 2008, the institution is the only Black university owned and operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
6. Xavier University of Louisiana (Catholic)
Wanting to give Black and Native American children in the South the Catholic-oriented education she thought they lacked, Katharine Drexel, a Philadelphia heiress turned Catholic nun and later saint, used her inheritance to open a high school for these students in 1915. Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament added Xavier University of New Orleans, a four-year college, in 1925. A private, coeducational historically black university located in New Orleans, Louisiana, Xavier University is the only HBCU affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.
7. Florida Memorial University (Baptist)
Florida Memorial is the result of a merger between two Baptist institutions: Florida Baptist Institute, established by the Black Baptists of Florida in Live Oak in 1879, and the Florida Baptist Academy, established in Jacksonville, Florida in 1892. The university endeavors to instill in students the importance of becoming global citizens through Christian principles, academic excellence, and service to humanity.