Published: 30-06-2011, 06:52

Howard University - American Education

The largest predominantly African-American university in the United States. Established in Washington, D.C., in 1867, Howard was one of three black colleges founded independently of northern white mission societies. Aware of the intellectual potential of Washington-area freedmen who had worked for congressmen, judges and other powerful, well-educated Washingtonians, a group of 10 members of the First Congregational Society of Washington founded the Howard Normal and Theological Institute for the Education of Teachers and Preachers, who, they hoped, would serve as leaders of their race.
Among the founding group was Gen. Oliver Otis Howard (1830–1909), the head of the Freedmen’s Bureau, which Congress created to provide a broad range of assistance to former slaves in the South after the Civil War. By giving the college his name and appointing him its first president, the trustees assured the college a congressional charter and annual financial support from the Freedmen’s Bureau. Gen. Howard’s service at the college ended with the halting of the bureau’s financial support in 1873, but six years later, the school won congressional authorization for an annual federal government subsidy, which continues to this day. (Gen. Howard went on to win notoriety for leading and almost losing the treacherous campaign against Chief Joseph and the Nez Percé in the West.)
Howard University

Howard University campus and students in 1946 (Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

An academically demanding school with a mission different from other, vocationally oriented black colleges, Howard attracted the outstanding black scholars of the time. By the mid-1930s, it had become a center of black culture, with a law school and medical school and such teachers as future statesman and Nobel laureate Ralph Bunche. Its students included THURGOOD MARSHALL, future U.S. Supreme Court justice who became the legal strategist for the landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case that would end racial segregation of American public schools. In all, Howard has trained approximately 40,000 black professionals. Howard has six undergraduate schools, with more than 7,000 students, and 11 graduate schools, with about 3,600 students. About 86% of students are African- American, and about two-thirds are women.