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North Carolina's Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)

Prior to the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865, the majority of African Americans in the United States were enslaved persons living in the southern states. Education for African Americans was sparse, especially in the South with laws such as North Carolina's that prohibited teaching enslaved persons to read and write. It was a rare occurrence for an African American to be literate.  While there were a few schools dedicated to African American education in the North prior to the Civil War, the first college available to African Americans in the South was Shaw University, which opened its doors in 1865. A number of institutions dedicated specifically for the education of African Americans were founded in the era immediately following the Civil War and others followed when segregation limited equal access to education. These schools are often known as Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or "HBCUs". 
North Carolina has twelve historically black colleges and universities, including the oldest in the South, Raleigh's Shaw University, founded in 1865, and North Carolina's newest HBCU, North Carolina Central University, founded in 1910 in Durham. Ten of these schools continue to operate today.

Click here for an interactive timeline of the history of North Carolina's HBCUs

Click on the images below for NCpedia articles on North Carolina's HBCUs

Shaw UniversityFayetteville State UniversityBarber-Scotia CollegeJohnson C. SmithSt. Augustine's UniversityBennett CollegeLivingstone CollegeKittrell CollegeNorth Carolina A&T State UniversityElizabeth City State CollegeWinston-Salem State UniversityNorth Carolina Central University


Barber-Scotia College (1867)
Bennett College (1873)
Elizabeth City State University (1891)
Fayetteville State University (1867)
Johnson C. Smith University (1867)
Kittrell College (1886-1975)
Livingstone College (1879)
North Carolina A & T State University (1891)
North Carolina Central University (1910)
St. Augustine’s University (1867)
Shaw University (1865)
Winston-Salem State University (1892)

Image Credits:

Contemporary photographs taken from university websites. Historic photo of Johnson C. Smith University from Digital Smith, in the Archives of the James B. Duke Library.



Hello, I am wondering if you could offer the name if an organization in my area (Guilford County NC) that could help with this issue. According to this article, we may be potentially losing an important historic African American and Quaker historic landmark. Thank you, Pam Williams


were you able to resolve this African American Quaker issue what is the historic landmark. I am a Quaker and may be able to help



You may want to consider contacting the Quaker church in the area. Local universities may have an interest. 

Erin Bradford, Government and Heritage Library


Excellent article however the primary question was not addressed. The major question to be settled is; what was the first HBCU (historically black college or university) in the US. That answer is Lincoln University (PA). Cheyney University is a fine institution but did not originate as a college. Your article did not correctly state that Cheyney was an elementary school at its inception (Institution for Colored Youth 1837 – 1913), then a High School (Cheyney State Normal School 1913 – 1921)and later became a teachers college in 1921(Cheyney State Teachers College 1921 – 1959). Lincoln University of PA (Founded as Ashmun Institute) was and is the first HBCU. Lincoln University chartered by the State of PA in April of 1854 (then Ashmun Institute), with its original purpose for the higher education of youth of African descent. Lincoln was established under the protection of the Presbytery of New Castle in 1853, as an institution to be called Ashmun Institute, for the scientific, classical and theological education of young Black males. On April 29, 1854, Ashmun Institute received its charter from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Lincoln’s graduates went on to start other colleges with a focus on educating the nation’s poor and minority population such as South Carolina State University, Livingstone College, Albany State University and several others. Lincoln University is also credited for graduates founding colleges and universities internationally. Lincoln University is also credited with educating the first presidents of Nigeria and Ghana. Lincoln also covets historically significant graduates such as Langston Hughes, Thurgood Marshall, Hildrus A. Poindexter and many others.


I have learned a lot in this article! Thanks for posting and sharing this article!


I am inquiring information on any HBCUs in North Carolina and or surrounding states that are in a collaborative partnership delivering health care in a community setting? If possible, I would like information on it.
McCullough, E.
January 31,2019


The article states Shaw University started in 1895. Correction, Shaw U. was started in 1865. Also the wording implies that Shaw University was the first HBCU. It should read more clearly if you mean first in North Carolina. Please update and correct the shared information. Thanks


While Shaw University was founded in 1865 it was not only the first HBCU in North Carolina; but rather there is information that concludes that Shaw is actually the oldest HBCU in the south.


Thank you for using NCpedia and bringing this to our attention. We will work on correcting the article. Please check back for updates!

Laurie Reeves, NC Government & Heritage Library


These colleges are well but i'm not looking to go to any of these colleges.

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