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African American Higher Education

Opportunities for freed black children to further their educational journey after high school were limited. As a direct response to minimal options, black people began to seek multiple opportunities on their own in the name of higher education.

John Chavis, of North Carolina, is noted as the first African-American college student. Mary Jane Patterson is the first black woman to earn a bachelor’s degree. While these students made notable steps towards aiding in access for black people nationwide, it would be the continued discrimination that led to the opening of black colleges like Wilberforce, Lincoln, and Cheyney University.

Hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr., with additional commentary from Brittney Cooper of Rutgers University, we explore the journey of African Americans whose quest for more knowledge led to a string of institutions that are still prominent today.

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