NCU Celebrates Black History Month

Booker T. Washington

At Northcentral University, we celebrate diversity in education through our faculty and student body, which is distributed around the world. We have students from more than 41 countries, and alumni from more than 70.

As a University, we embrace the value of equity in education and aim to maintain varied, inclusive representation among our faculty, team members and students. We support the diverse nature of our community by creating an environment in which the members of our global community experience educational growth, success and feel connected.

As we celebrate Black History Month in February, we’re proud to spotlight African Americans who pioneered education in the past, as well as today.

Alexander Lucius Twilight: In 1823, Twilight became the first African American to graduate from a U.S. college, receiving a bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College in Vermont. He later went on to become the first African American to win an election, joining the Vermont Legislature in 1836.

Mary Jane Patterson: In 1862, Patterson, a daughter of fugitive slaves, graduated from Oberlin College becoming the first African-American woman to earn a college degree. She went on to teach high school, become a principal and mentored countless African-American women.

Booker T. Washington: A former slave, Washington attended school after the Civil War ushered in emancipation. He went on to lead Alabama's Tuskegee Institute, a postsecondary school for African American students. During the early 1900s, he was the most influential African American and was able to secure funding from philanthropists for African American education in the South.

Fredrick Patterson: Patterson continued Booker T. Washington’s legacy, serving as the president of the Tuskegee Institute. In 1944, he founded the United Negro College Fund. Today, that organization continues to raise money for higher education scholarships for black students, and provides financial awards for historically black colleges and universities in the United States.

The Little Rock Nine:  Despite being only teenagers at the time, Melba Beals, Minnijean Brown, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Gloria Ray Karlmark, Carlotta Walls LaNier, Thelma Mothershed, Terrence Roberts and Jefferson Thomas became symbols of the Civil Rights movement when they attempted to attend an all-white school in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957. Despite the fact that segregation began in 1954, Little Rock Central High still had no black students. The nine students attempted to enter the school that was blocked by Arkansas National Guard troops. The pictures from the incident drew national attention, and prompted President Eisenhower to dispatch U.S. soldiers to escort the nine into the school building.

Joe Lewis Clark: Controversial for his approach to discipline in school, Clark and his methods, were featured in the 1989 movie “Lean on Me,” and he was part of the inspiration for Denzel Washington’s character in “Hard Lessons.” While serving as principal at Eastside High School in Paterson, New Jersey, Clark expelled students who were frequently tardy or absent from school, and increased his school’s test scores.

Linda Darling-Hammond: According to the 2016 Rick Hess Straight Up Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings, a list of the 200 most influential university scholars, Darling-Hammond was the most influential of all. She is the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emerita at Stanford University where she is faculty director of the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. The former president of the American Educational Research Association is the author of several books on education.

NCU applauds the outstanding accomplishments of these African Americans, and their contributions to the field of education. 

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