Loading

#HistoryStartsHere

SAU celebrates Black History Month by remembering the greats of its history, with the arts, and emphasizing current students, who are currently making black history.

How History Started Here

St. Augustine’s College in 1900. Image from the Prezell R. Robinson Library.

Saint Augustine’s University was chartered as a “Normal School and Collegiate Institute” on July 19, 1867, by the Reverend J. Brinton Smith, D.D., secretary of the Freedman’s Commission of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and the Right Reverend Thomas Atkinson, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina. Bishop Atkinson became the first president of the Board of Trustees and Dr. Smith was the first principal. The new school opened its doors for instruction on January 13, 1868.

St. Augustine’s University's founders

Saint Augustine’s University was chartered as a “Normal School and Collegiate Institute” on July 19, 1867, by the Reverend J. Brinton Smith, D.D., secretary of the Freedman’s Commission of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and the Right Reverend Thomas Atkinson, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina. Bishop Atkinson became the first president of the Board of Trustees and Dr. Smith was the first principal. The new school opened its doors for instruction on January 13, 1868.

Bishop Henry Beard Delany

Henry Beard Delany was the first black man to become an Episcopal Bishop in North Carolina and only the second in the United States. Upon graduation in 1885, he joined the faculty teaching religion, music, and in the normal department; he was also chaplain, vice-principal and supervisor of building projects.

Bishop Henry Beard Delany married Nanny Logan and together they fostered 10 children. The Delany Family is considered the first family of the institution. All of the Delany siblings were raised and attended school on campus. Under the spearheaded guidance of the Bishop and Nanny, all of the children had noteworthy careers; of the children, the two oldest daughters Annie Elizabeth (Bessie) and Sarah Louise (Sadie) gained national fame in 1992 with their best-selling book, Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years. The book was turned into a Broadway play and a television movie.

Dr. Anna Julia Cooper

Dr. Anna Julia Cooper was born into slavery and died as the 1964 Civil Rights Act ended legally sanctioned discrimination. She received a scholarship to Saint Augustine’s Normal School and Collegiate Institute at the age of nine years old; she was the fourth black woman in the world to receive a Ph. D. from the University of Paris-Sorbonne. Dr. Cooper wrote A Voice from the South, by a Black Woman of the South, and she was honored as the 32nd stamp in the United States Postal Service Black Heritage Series as an activist who gave a voice to the African American community during the 19th and 20th centuries. “The cause of freedom is not the cause of the race or sect, a party of class – it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity” is a quote from Anna J. Cooper located on the pages of the United States Passport. She was most recently commemorated in Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints.

Saint Augustine's Chapel

The University historic chapel was erected in 1895 and is the oldest building on campus. The Chapel provides spirituals services to the students, faculty, staff and community. On Tuesday, October 11, 1897, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, the Rt. Rev. James B. Cheshire, consecrated the university chapel. Students who were enrolled in the carpentry and masonry classes built university chapel. The chapel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

St. Agnes

St. Agnes Hospital was erected in 1896 as a training center for Black nurses. It was founded by the fourth President Rev. Aaron B. Hunter and his wife Sarah. Sarah was the hospital’s first Superintendent, Treasure and major fundraiser. The initially established program was an 18-month curriculum with training that included sewing, scrubbing, cleaning and cooking. Most of the nurses that fought in World War II trained at St. Agnes. Former Heavy-weight Champion Jack Johnson died in the hospital after a car accident in 1946. The hospital closed its doors in 1961, but still remains standing on campus as one of the campuses National Landmarks.

Dean Boyer

Dean Boyer, graduated from Yale University and became the first African-American Dean as a professor of Greek and Mathematics. He served forty dedicated years engaged in teaching or other activities at the college. He was influential in bringing the first athletic programs to the college. He organized and participated in football and baseball. He also brought the school colors its colors - “Blue & White.” He is pictured here teaching Sadie Delany.

Selma Burke

Selma Burke graduated from St. Agnes Hospital in 1924. Although she was nurse by profession, she was also a gifted artist. Her most famous work is the bust of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the United States dime. She developed a strong relationship with President Roosevelt, and went on to spearhead the launch of the March of Dimes campaign; it was one of the earliest attempts to help combat Polio. She later received her Ph.D. from the University of Paris.

Bishop Daniel S. Tuttle

The Bishop Tuttle Memorial Training School was erected by the Women’s Auxiliary at Saint Augustine’s to the National Council in 1925 in honor of Bishop Daniel S. Tuttle. The Tuttle School was a national training center for the education of Negro Women for Church Work and Social Services. The building is also registered with the National Registry for Historic Buildings. It currently houses the University’s ROTC Department.

Dean Boyer and the first graduating class in 1931

Saint Augustine’s Junior College developed into a four-year college in 1928; with the newly named Saint Augustine’s College first graduating class obtaining degrees in three years.

Dr. John Hope Franklin and Dr. Lloyd Quaterman

Known as the Jackie Robinson of Education, Dr. John Hope Franklin was a member of the Saint Augustine’s Faculty from 1937-1941. He is pictured here with the faculty; amongst the faculty members are Dr. Lloyd Quaterman. Dr. Franklin was a renowned historian, civil rights activist, and educator, and he is responsible for the most reproduced history book of our time, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans. John Hope Franklin was the driving force behind Thurgood Marshall as he prepared for his battle in the Brown vs. the Board of Education case. Upon his death in 2009, Dr. Franklin held over 100 Honorary Degrees. Dr. Franklin is in the front row of the picture above.

Upon graduating from Saint Augustine’s College, Lloyd A. Quarterman graduated and was quickly recruited by the War Department to work on the Manhattan Project as a chemist. As one of the few African Americans to work on the project, Quarterman was chiefly responsible for the design and construction of a special distillation system made to for purify large quantities of hydrogen fluoride. He is a 1943, alumnus.

Dr. Harold L. Trigg

Dr. Harold L. Trigg became the first African-American President of the institution; he was appointed in 1947. He was concerned for Saint Augustine’s growth and was a very motivating force in the college’s membership with the United Negro College Fund so that funds might be granted for institutional expenses, equipment, student scholarships and faculty improvements. He served the institution to his fullest and resigned from his presidency in 1955 and James A. Boyer was appointed acting president.

Mille D. Veasy

Mille D. Veasy served in the Women’s Army Corp from 1942 to 1945 with the rank of Staff Sergeant. A 1953 alumna of Saint Augustine’s College, she later returned to the college to serve as the Director of Career Planning and Placement/Cooperative Education. She was the past president of the NAACP of Wake County. She is one of three surviving black female soldiers from her unit to have seen combat in World War II. Ms. Veasey sat next to Martin Luther King, Jr. at the March on Washington.

Dr. Boyer

In 1955, Dr. Boyer had the distinct honor of becoming the first alumnus to serve as the head of the institution; he was born at St. Agnes. During his presidency, he rejoiced about the increase in enrollment which had grown from 400 to about 500 in 1954, and then up to 850 in 1967. Under his administration, Baker Hall for women and Atkins Hall for men were completed; Emery Health and the Fine Arts Building, the gymnasium and auditorium, were also completed; apartments for faculty-staff were added to campus housing, and a rectory for the Chaplain was built.

Students are Making History

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a copyright violation, please follow the DMCA section in the Terms of Use.