Lincoln University of Pennsylvania: Profile
Lincoln University of Pennsylvania was first. Long before the sons and daughters of enslaved Africans even dreamed about a college education, Lincoln was producing doctors, lawyers and leaders. It is the only historically black college to graduate a Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall; and two former heads of state, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria's first president; and Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana's first president.
Lincoln's heritage reflects a tradition of high aspirations. It was originally chartered in 1854, seven years before the Civil War, as Ashmun Institute, the world's first institution founded to provide higher education to African Americans. Other institutions began as primary and high schools.
Lincoln grew out of Rev. John Miller Dickey's failure to find a place for a free black man to attend school. So Dickey, a white Presbyterian minister, founded Ashmun to provide scientific, classical and ministerial training for freed men. The school, surrounded by rolling farmlands and wooded Pennsylvania hilltops, was renamed Lincoln University in 1866 after Abraham Lincoln. The first female students were admitted in 1952.
During the school's first century, its graduates made up 20 percent of all African American doctors and 10 percent of all African American lawyers. Lincoln's alumni rolls also include literary giant Langston Hughes, a 1929 graduate for whom the library is named.
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