Happy Birthday ECSU and NC A&T

Though each school came about by different circumstances, two of the University of North Carolina’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities – Elizabeth City State University and North Carolina A&T University -- celebrated milestone 125th anniversaries this March.

Winston-Salem State University, another of UNC’s HBCUs, will celebrate its 125th anniversary next year. Each of the schools came about in different ways, but with the same goal: to provide quality education to African-American students during Reconstruction after the Civil War.

North Carolina A&T State University

North Carolina A&T got its start in August of 1890 as the A&M College for the Colored Race, established through federal law under what became known as the Second Morrill Act. Sen. Justin Morrill of Vermont drafted the law to counteract discriminatory practices by southern states to not allow African Americans into the land-grant universities that Congress created in 1862. Both the First and Second Morrill Acts were passed to create affordable higher education “accessible to all, but especially to the sons of toil.”

On March 9, 1891, the North Carolina General Assembly ratified the act establishing the A. and M. College for the Colored Race. The college’s intent is to teach practical agriculture and mechanic arts, as well as other disciplines. About a year later, the A&M Board of Trustees voted to locate the college in Greensboro.

Elizabeth City State University

Elizabeth City State University was created March 3, 1891 through the state legislature’s House Bill 383, sponsored by Hugh Cale, an African-American representative from Pasquotank County. The bill established a school for “teaching and training teachers of the colored race to teach in the common schools of North Carolina.”

Under the leadership of Peter W. Moore, the college grew from 23 to 355 students and from two faculty members to 15 until his retirement as President Emeritus in 1928.

To learn more about the histories of both campuses, visit Elizabeth City State’s website at http://www.ecsu.edu/about/history/index.html and North Carolina’s A&T’s website at http://www.ncat.edu/125/history.html.


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