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African American Higher Education

By 1900, African Americans who wanted more than the vocational curriculum favored by Booker T. Washington could turn to 34 black colleges and universities, as well as white institutions, such as Oberlin, which admitted black students. The oldest historically black college still in operation today, Cheyney State in Pennsylvania, was founded in 1837. A number of black institutions emphasized particular curricula. Wilberforce University in Ohio groomed men for the military, and Shaw University in North Carolina was one of the first black institutions to offer a medical school. Alcorn College, founded in 1871, was the first black land-grant college and was made possible by the Morrill Act of 1862, which provided federal land-grant funds for higher education. Congress passed the second Morrill Act in 1890, which stipulated that no state could receive federal aid for any white agricultural or mechanical school unless the state also provided for a similar school for African Americans. In this way, a system of separate land-grant institutions became the basis of black higher education in the South. In 1900, W. E. B. du Bois found that there were around 2,600 living African Americans who had graduated from post-secondary institutions.
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