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Faith of A Mustard Seed  

by Barbara Woods-Washington
Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

Dawne Raines Burke, delivers in print an “American Phoenix: A History of Storer College from Slavery to Desegregation 1865 through 1955”.  In her introduction is a most powerful statement which places every person who desires the knowledge of Storer College —right at the heart. “Storer College’s role as a reforming educational institution and it’s symbolic importance to the ultimate success of abolitionist goals, positioned the school nicely as a site for important public speeches on racial issues. On May 30, 1881, for example, on the occasion of Storer’s fourteenth anniversary, Frederick Douglass” (a member of the Board of Trustees) “delivered an unforgettable commencement address on the legacy of John Brown’s raid some twenty years earlier. Douglas said, “If John Brown did not end the war that ended slavery, he did at least begin the war that ended slavery … not Carolina, but Virginia, not Fort Sumter, but Harper’s Ferry, and the arsenal, not Colonel Anderson, but John Brown, began the war that ended American slavery and made this a free Republic.”

The deeper I go into ‘HBCU History’, the more I understand the “Truth” —TURNED into  THEORY’.  Just for one: I found a note on the US.gov site concerning the “1862 First Morrill Act” indicating Two Black institutions land granted by this original legislation DURING Slavery: the University of DC and the University of the Virgin Islands.  Neither of these two Universities’ Web presence holds nor transmits any knowledge of this!  AND the note has disappeared from the US.gov Morrill Act page.  While the research on “UDC’s Web” more definitively traces it’s roots to the school for “colored girls” that Myrtilla Miner founded in 1851; ‘UVI’s Web’ transmit their founding as 1962! —100 years of their education history… white washed.  So much so that the only piece that I can uncover with ‘relationship of these things’ is Alexander Hamilton, born in the Virgin Islands.  “Education is Legislation.” (Me)

Burke writes further on Storer saying, “The college was formed from several Mission schools founded around 1865, the result of the efforts of a group of committed philanthropist.  …Their efforts were subsequently responsible for giving rise to a Negro College Movement,”

Time and time again I am finding where HBCU history is now ‘falling short’ of the whole truth.  It appears as though the education history of Africans born in America begins at the point when the money from rich white philanthropists infuse the already existing schools for the purchasing of the Land and Buildings where in so many cases, the schools ALSO take on the names of the benefactors… leaving the original black men and women who founded these schools as a fading footnote.  Lost —to THEIR telling and recording of OUR education history!

In 1903 W. E. B. Du Bois released “The Soul’s of Black Folk”, of which James Weldon Johnson writes in his Autobiography: “a work which, I think, has had a greater effect upon and within the Negro race in America than any other single book published in this country since “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”.  By 1905 Du Bois sent invitations to 59 Black men of scholarship and stature to join him in the vision of what became known as the “Niagra Movement”.  ‘Twenty-Nine’ came to Canada and the following year the meeting was held at Storer in Harper’s Ferry.

Burke continues in saying, “Ironically, Storer College, founded on integrationist principles, met its demise as a degree granting institutions in the wake of the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision, “Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. While many historically black colleges continued on after the tradition of “separate but equal” ended, Storer College was faced with monetary struggles and an unsympathetic state legislature.  The college therefore opted to close its doors, with defenders of the decision declaring that its historic mission of integrated education was fulfilled.”

by email: myfathersmansionpress@gmail.com

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