By Gloria Dulan-Wilson

Hello All:

As I have often stated, Philadelphia - Pennsylvania - is rich in Black History and Culture - too bad more Black Philadelphians don't know, understand and respect the greatness they have among them - and how many have actually contributed to the history of this great region.  It's like having an embarrassment of riches.  Pennsylvania is home to two of the first Black educational facilities in the US:  Lincoln University and Cheyney University - and they are a stone's throw from each other.

Each has made it's mark in the world and contributed mightily to Black education and intelligentsia.  
However, I just received an invite to attend the 180 anniversary of Cheyney as the "First HBCU in the US," and I was taken aback, somewhat by it.    

Cheyney University ------- to Celebrate 180th Anniversary March 1

CHEYNEY, PA – Cheyney University of Pennsylvania will celebrate 180 years of service to tens of thousands of students at its annual Founder's Day Convocation on Wednesday, March 1 at 12:30 pm in Marian Anderson Music Center’s Auditorium on the historic campus. The Cheyney Community and the outside public are invited to attend.  

Cheyney University alumnus and Chairman of Cheyney’s Council of Trustees, Robert W. Bogle ’75, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Philadelphia Tribune, will give the Keynote Address. The Tribune is the nation’s oldest and the Greater Philadelphia region’s largest audited newspaper serving the African-American community. Bogle, known for infusing virtually all facets of American society with the African American perspective, generously supports student scholarships at his alma mater, and encourages community leaders, corporations and foundations to do the same. His longstanding support of Cheyney University is a testament to the significant impact that Cheyney has on its students. It is also a testament to Bogle’s unwavering commitment to ensure a long-lasting and vibrant future for the university.
“We take great pride in welcoming our own Cheyney champion, Robert Bogle, as our 180th birth year speaker. Chairman Bogle is among a growing list of alumni, and supporters, who knows the importance of paying it forward,” shares Dr. Frank G. Pogue, Cheyney's Interim President.

It may be an "inconvenient truth," but the fact is that Cheyney is not the first Black HBCU - Lincoln University is.  However, Cheyney has the distinction of being the First Black Educational Facility for Black Youth.  It later became a University and began officially granting degrees in 1932.  By that time, Lincoln University, which was founded in 1854, hand been granting degrees for nearly 100 years. 

So that this does not become a diatribe about who's on first, I did some research - Wikipedia, Google, Lincoln Archives, Cheyney Archives, and I'm sharing this with you all here:  

Cheyney is not the nation's first HBCU  -  However, it is the first Black Educational Institution dedicated to the education of Black children in the US - opening in Pennsylvania in 1837 - definitely making it 180 years old, and certainly something wonderful to celebrate and acknowledge.  But let's keep the  history straight.


WIKIPEDIA: The founding of Cheyney University was made possible by Richard Humphreys, a Quaker philanthropist who bequeathed $10,000, one tenth of his estate, to design and establish a school to educate the descendants of the African race. Born on Tortola, an island in the West Indies, Richard Humphreys came to Philadelphia in 1764. Having witnessed the struggles of African Americans competing unsuccessfully for jobs due to the influx of immigrants, he became interested in their plight. In 1829, after race riots occurred in Philadelphia, Humphreys wrote his will and charged thirteen fellow Quakers to design an institution: “…to instruct the descendants of the African race in school learning, in the various branches of the mechanic arts, trades and agriculture, in order to prepare and fit and qualify them to act as teachers….”  

PER THE HISTORY OF CHEYNEY - TAKEN FROM CHEYNEY'S OWN HISTORICAL RECORDS, THESE ARE THE FACTS:  HISTORY OF CHENEY UNIVERSITY:  "From its initial founding {1937}  until 1852, the African Institute, as it was known, was located on a 136 acre farm seven miles from Philadelphia on Old York Road. In 1849, the farm school closed for re-evaluation and the farm was sold. On October 22, 1849, the board authorized the re-opening of the school, and on November 5, 1849, an evening school opened on Barclay Street in Philadelphia where it continued to operate through the spring of 1851 until suitable quarters could be found to resume a day school program. Toward the end of July, 1851, the board found a better location for the school on two contiguous lots on the south side of Lombard Street (716-18). The purchase price was $3,244. The board authorized the purchase of the lots and directed the committee to prepare a plan for the building as soon as possible. When the school opened in 1852 as the Institute for Colored Youth, a foundation had been laid for many years until the Lombard building was sold and the school moved to a new building at 915 Bainbridge Street in 1866 where a Pennsylvania state historical marker now stands.
In November of 1902, a committee of the Board of Managers recommended the purchase of a farm owned by Quaker farmer George Cheyney at Cheyney Station, Pennsylvania about twenty-five miles west of Philadelphia. The move to the expansive country location was deemed necessary in order for the Institute to increase academic offerings and, therefore, attract more students. In December, the Institute purchased the farm for $11,199. At the June meeting of the Board of Managers in 1913, the board accepted the resignation of Hugh Browne as principal, a position that he had held since 1902. But, by July, the board extended an offer to a young Harvard graduate, Leslie Pinckney Hill, who was principal at the Manassas Industrial School, in Manassas, Virginia. On July 10, Hill accepted the offer to lead the Institute for Colored Youth. One of Hill’s first official actions came in January of 1914 when he proposed to the board that the name of the Institute be changed from the Institute for Colored Youth to Cheyney Training School for Teachers to better reflect the purpose of the school and the nature of its work. The board concurred and in July, 1914, the school officially became Cheyney Training School for Teachers. Hill would go on to lead the school until 1951, a longer tenure than any other president. During that time, the name of the school would change several times to reflect the evolution in its status; in 1920, Cheyney Training School for Teachers: State Normal School (also known as Cheyney State Normal School). Records reveal that as early as the fall of 1919, the board, upon Hill’s recommendation, displayed interest in the establishment of Cheyney as a standard normal school. A high level meeting was arranged by influential members of the board for them to meet with Governor William Sproul and the state education superintendent, Thomas E. Finegan, to discuss the matter of a “closer union” of Cheyney’s work with that of the state system. The meeting took place in April of 1920. Events moved rapidly after this pivotal meeting. Senator Albert McDade of Delaware County visited the school and came away impressed enough to sponsor Senate Bill No. 338, forming section 2040 of the Pennsylvania School Code, the statute which authorized the purchase of Cheyney by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Senate bill #338 passed both houses and the governor signed it into law. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania paid $75,000 and assumed management and all expenses of Cheyney Training School for Teachers on January 1, 1922.
On October 3, 1930, the State Council of Education approved an extension of the curricula at Cheyney in elementary education, home economics, and industrial arts, all leading to the degree of Bachelor of Science in Education. Thus, on May 30, 1932, the first baccalaureate degrees were awarded. By June of 1951, the school had completed the implementation of certain recommendations of the first Middle States Association accreditation committee, one of which was to change the name of the school from Cheyney Training School for Teachers to the State Teachers College at Cheyney (also known as Cheyney State Teachers College). Cheyney became fully accredited shortly thereafter. By legislative act in 1959, the name of the school was changed to Cheyney State College.
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education was established by statute on July 1, 1983. As a charter member of the system, Cheyney State College became Cheyney University of Pennsylvania in 1983, the oldest of the fourteen member institutions and the oldest Historically Black College/University (HBCU) in the nation.
Today, Cheyney University students represent a variety of races, cultures, and nationalities who receive educational instruction far beyond the vision of Richard Humphreys. Cheyney graduates still become teachers, but students also enter careers such as journalism, medicine, business, science/technology, law, communications, and government service. The university offers baccalaureate degrees in more than 30 disciplines and the master’s degree in education and public administration.
Cheyney University is proud of its more than 30,000 graduates. Well known alumni include the late Ed Bradley, a correspondent of the CBS program “60 Minutes;” Pedro Rivera, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education; Robert W. Bogle, publisher and CEO of the Philadelphia Tribune, the oldest newspaper continuously owned and operated by an African American; Dr. Audrey F. Bronson, a member of the PA State System of Higher Education’s Board of Governors, ordained minister and retired educator; Dr. Gladys Styles Johnston, former Chancellor of the University of Nebraska at Kearney; Thaddeus Kirkland, State Representative and Mayor of Chester, PA; and civil rights activist, the late Bayard Rustin.
For detailed information about Cheyney University's formation, please visit our History page."

Lincoln University
Albert Einstein at Lincoln University
"Image Ownership: Public Domain" 
Lincoln University in Pennsylvania was founded in 1854 by John Miller Dickey, a Presbyterian minister and his wife, Sarah Emlen Cresson. It is located on Baltimore Pike in southern Chester County, a rural part of southeastern Pennsylvania. Lincoln was originally founded under the name Ashmun Institute, after the religious leader and social reformer, Jehudi Ashmun, to educate young men of African descent. It is the first degree-awarding school of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in the United States. 

Dickey, the first president of the institute, supported the establishment of Liberia as a colony for African Americans and encouraged the Institute's first students to support the movement. 

In 1866, about a year after President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, the school was renamed to Lincoln University. In 1945 Lincoln alumnus, Dr. Horace Mann Bond, was elected to be the first African American president of the University. Lincoln began accepting female students in 1952. In 1972 Lincoln formally associated with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and became a state-related coeducational university. It is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. 

The University has a number of notable alumni, including Langston Hughes, famous American poet, Thurgood Marshall, the first African American U.S. Supreme Court Justice, and Hildrus A. Poindexter, an internationally recognized authority on tropical diseases. The first president of NigeriaNnamdi Azikiwe, and the first Prime Minister of GhanaKwame Nkrumah, are also graduates of Lincoln. - 




See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/lincoln-university-1854#sthash.NQssObKa.dpuf

Again, I wish to congratulate Cheyney on it's illustrious history of 180 years - a milestone in these United States where Black institutions of any kind are usually short-lived and the target of extinction under a not so benign regime.  I also congratulate the many graduates who have made, and continue to make their contribution to the world.

HBCUs throughout the US are national treasures and are integrally important to us all and the educational future of our Black youth and adults.  And any and all means at our disposal should be dedicated to their survival, expansion and excellence from now into the future.

Stay Blessed & 

Gloria Dulan-Wilson
Lincoln University '67

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