Working for Higher Education: Advancing Black Women’s Rights in the 1850s

Junius C. Morel

Junius C. Morel (ca.1814-1874) was born in North Carolina,[1] but it was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where his career began.[2] Morel wrote for multiple publications and participated as a delegate in several conventions. Initially, he served in the 1831 and 1832 conventions as a secretary[3] and an assistant secretary[4] respectively. Later in the 1843 National Convention of Colored Citizens, he was appointed as member of the planning committee.[5] Morel later moved to Brooklyn where he wrote for several Black newspapers—including Frederick Douglass’ Newspaper[6]—and taught at Colored School No. 2. Some sources identify him as the principal of the school.[7] All the while Morel maintained presence in the conventions. This is the educational background from which his position on the college of manual labor in the 1853 convention hails.

Morel’s take on education is clear on Liberator’s report of an Equal School Rights meeting that took place beginning on December 10, 1849.[8] There, several esteemed educators spoke on what they deemed universally important for the educational system. At this meeting, Morel advanced his belief in integration, even going as far as to say that exclusively Black institutions were “fostering the fell spirit of colonization”[9] that African Americans aimed to subvert; this was Morel equating any form of racial exclusion to promoting the blatant oppression of colonization. It appears as though to Morel, education was paramount to equity, and as such he advocated for it on behalf of every student, not just the students of color.


[1] Year: 1870; Census Place: Brooklyn Ward 9, Kings, New York; Roll: M593_950; Page: 123A; Image: 251; Family History Library Film: 552449

[2] “Proposals,” Liberator, 16 July 1831: 116, Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers. Web. 25 Feb. 2016.

[3] American Society of Free Persons of Colour (1830 : Philadelphia, PA), “Constitution of the American Society of Free Persons of Colour, for improving their condition in the United States; for purchasing lands; and for the establishment of a settlement in upper Canada, also, The Proceedings of the Convention with their Address to Free Persons of Colour in the United States,”, accessed February 24, 2016.

[4] Convention for the Improvement of the Free People of Color, Second Annual (1832 : Philadelphia, PA), “Minutes and Proceedings of the Second Annual Convention for the Improvement of the Free People of Color in these United States, held by adjournments in the city of Philadelphia, from the 4th to the 13th of June, inclusive, 1832.,”, accessed February 26, 2016.

[5] National Convention of Colored Citizens (1843 : Buffalo, NY), “Minutes of the National Convention of Colored Citizens; Held at Buffalo; on the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th of August, 1843; for the purpose of considering their moral and political condition as American citizens.,”, accessed February 24, 2016.

[6] “The Editor,” Frederick Douglass Paper, 18 February 1853, 116, Accessible Archives. Web. 25 Feb. 2016

[7] William Cooper Nell, “Equal School Rights,” Liberator, 8 February 1850.

[8] Nell, “Equal School Rights.”

[9] Nell, “Equal School Rights.”