Friday, February 28, 2014

HBCU's in Texas

A summary of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) in Texas, listed in chronological order. There have been eleven but two are now closed.   

1872 – Paul Quinn College (Dallas) was founded as the “Correctional High School and Institute” in Austin by the AME Church. It moved to Waco in 1877 and was known as Waco College until it took its current name in honor of Rev. William Paul Quinn, Senior Bishop of the AME Church, who organized funding for church-sponsored schools during the years after the Civil War. In 1990 PQC relocated to Dallas at the former Bishop College campus. HBCU Digest named PQC 2011 HBCU of the Year, and in 2012 PQC President Michael J. Sorrell was named HBCU Male President of the Year. PQC is also home to the WE over ME Farm, which was created in the unused football field to bring vegetables to the South Dallas food desert.

1873 – Wiley College (Marshall) was founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church and named after Bishop Isaac Wiley who supervised educational boards of the church. Wiley is best known for its debate teams of the 1930’s, winning against National Champion USC in 1935 under the leadership of Melvin Tolson. This victory was the basis for the 2007 film The Great Debaters in which Denzel Washington portrayed Dr. Tolson. Another prominent faculty member at the time was religion and philosophy professor J. Leonard Farmer, the first African American in Texas to hold a PhD. Dr. Farmer was the father of Wiley debater and civil rights leader James L. Farmer, Jr., founder of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and organizer of the Freedom Rides during the summer of 1961. In addition to Farmer, notable alumni include chemist Henry Cecil McBay and Herman Sweatt, plaintiff in the landmark case of Sweatt vs. Painter which he filed after being denied admission to the University of Texas Law School.

1873 – Prairie View A&M was founded as “Alta Vista Agricultural and Mechanical College for Colored Youth” on the site of the old Alta Vista plantation near Prairie View, 50 miles northwest of Houston, as part of what is now Texas A&M University. There were only 8 students the first year, after which it became primarily a teacher’s college known as Prairie View Normal Institute. The first commencement speaker was Booker T. Washington in June 1897. In 1945 it became Prairie View University, and in 1973 Prairie View A&M University, an independent unit of the A&M system. PVAMU was the first HBCU to create and play in a football bowl game, and its teams have regularly led the SWAC in many sports. Some outstanding alumni are MLB first baseman and manager Cecil Cooper, NLF Hall of Famer Ken Houston, UNCF founder Frederick Paterson, and Inez Prosser, a 1913 graduate who was the first African American woman to earn a doctorate in psychology. Actor Mr. T also attended but did not graduate.

1881 – A forerunner of Huston-Tillotson University (Austin) was founded by the American Missionary Society of Congregational Churches as “Tillotson College and Normal Institute”. It merged with Methodist-affiliated Samuel Huston College (founded 1900) to become Huston-Tillotson College in 1952. Jackie  Robinson was the baseball coach in 1944 and 1945. Alumni include Azie Morton Taylor, US Treasurer during the Clinton Administration, as well as United Methodist clergy members Zan Holmes (former professor at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology and long-time Dallas civil rights activist) and Cecil Williams (retired pastor of Glade Memorial UMC in San Francisco).

1881 – Bishop College was founded in Marshall by the Baptist Home Mission Society during a movement led by Nathan Bishop, a New England school administrator, to provide education for African American Baptist youth in the South. During a denominational meeting in Philadelphia, Bishop received a pledge from the president of Baylor University to create a school in Texas. It became known for its 2-year ministry program, and moved to Dallas in 1961 where enrollment grew, peaking at 2,000 students in 1970. Bishop lost its accreditation and was forced to close in 1988.

1884 – Guadalupe College was founded in Seguin by the Texas Missionary Baptist General Convention. It closed in 1936 after a fire in the main building.

1894 – Texas College (Tyler) was founded by the CME church. It was briefly known as Phillips University (1909 – 1912) in honor of Bishop Henry Phillips. It housed one campus of Tyler Junior College from 1946 to 1966 and is best known for its teacher training programs.

1898 – St. Philip’s College was founded in San Antonio as an outreach ministry of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church. Artemensia Bowden, the daughter of former slaves, joined the faculty as a teacher and administrator in 1902; under her leadership SPC went from an industrial school for girls to a high school and, in 1927, a junior college. It ended its Episcopalian ties in 1942 when it became part of the San Antonio Community College System, serving San Antonio’s black community until the system was integrated in 1950.

1912 – Jarvis Christian College ( Hawkins) was founded by a joint effort between the Christian Woman’s Board of Missions and the Negro Disciples of Christ. It is located on land donated by James and Ida Van Zandt Jarvis, also benefactors of TCU. Jarvis began by offering high school courses, adding junior college courses in 1927 and upper division courses in 1938. Oil discovered on campus land in the 1940’s provided income for several decades. It is the only remaining college of the 12 founded by the Disciples of Christ.

1927 – Texas Southern University was founded in Houston as “Houston Colored  Junior College” by the Houston School District concurrently with a junior college for white students, and became a four-year school in 1934. For the previous three years, Wiley College in Marshall had operated an extension in Houston for teacher training. When Heman Sweatt filed suit after being denied admittance to the University of Texas Law School in 1946, the court granted a continuance for six months to allow the state to create a law school for black students. This was done by assuming control of Houston Colored College and renaming it Texas State University for Negroes with the requirement of teaching "pharmacy, dentistry, arts and sciences, journalism education, literature, law, medicine and other professional courses," stipulating that "these courses shall be equivalent to those offered at other institutions of this type supported by the State of Texas." (The US Supreme Court later ruled that the facilities and distance from other law students did not provide an equal education and Sweatt was admitted to UT.) Despite TSU’s Jim Crow beginnings (“for Negroes” was dropped from the name in 1951) it has become a nationally respected institution, ranking fourth in the number of doctoral and professional degrees granted to African Americans. Alumni include legislators Barbara Jordan and Mickey Leland, saxophonist Kirk Whalum, and gospel singer Yolanda Adams.

1948 – Southwestern Christian College (Terrell) was founded in Fort Worth by the Church of Christ as “Southwestern Bible Institute”. Two years later it relocated to the Terrell property vacated by the Texas Military Academy and took its current name. The campus contains the first building erected in Terrell, an octagonal-shaped house (despite its shape it was called a "Round House") to give better protection against Indians. The house contained the first glass windows in Kaufman County and is one of only twenty surviving Round Houses in the country.

Sources: Wikipedia, Texas State Historical Association, college websites when available