map of Black colleges established by the Methodist Episcopal Church

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division, The New York Public Library. “Location of schools of the Board of Education for Negroes of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1921.” New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and Talladega College (and other HBCUs) have different founding histories, but they share the same mission: to create and increase access to education for African American. The labors that went into these institutions—from teaching in makeshift schools, organizing in conventions, securing public funding, and to defying racist white terrorists and legislator—demonstrate the resilience and persistence of Black collective action. Centering the role of the Colored Conventions in these histories expands our understandings of these institutions, Reconstruction politics, and the generational activism that sustains modern-day movements for equity in education. 

Morris Brown College, Wilberforce University, Langston University, Edward Waters College, Southern University, Fayetteville State University, and Savannah State University are just some of the HBCUs whose founding histories either passively credit nineteenth-century Black activists, delegates, and AME leaders. Placing these histories within the context of the Colored Conventions allows for a recognition and celebration of Black life, labor, and history.


Written by Rachel Nelson for ENGL/HIST 677, taught by P. Gabrielle Foreman, University of Delaware, Spring 2019, and Samantha de Vera, University of California, San Diego.

Edited by P. Gabrielle Foreman.

Acknowledgements: Michelle Byrnes for further edits, visualization contributions, and technical assistance.