Cheyney University: The First HBCU

Cheyney University: The First HBCU

Melissa W.

We’re at the end of Black History month and have really enjoyed learning about and sharing Black-centered campus organizations and colleges throughout February. We figured, what better way to round out the month than by highlighting the first ever school to form Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU)?!

Originally known as the African Institute and soon after, the Institute for Colored Youth, Cheyney University in Pennsylvania became the first HBCU in February 1837 after being gifted $10,000 from the estate of philanthropist Richard Humphreys. Humphrey’s request was to form a school to specifically educate Black people to become teachers. In the early 1900s, the university’s location was moved to a 275 acre farm owned by George Cheyney outside of Philadelphia which led to the school’s nickname, and eventual official name, of Cheyney University.

While Richard Humpreys had initial goals of Black graduates becoming teachers, you’ll find a variety of races and cultures on Cheyney’s campus studying journalism, political science/government service, criminal justice, sociology, communications, and medicine/pre-med programs.

According to their website, Cheyney University states “Cheyney University of Pennsylvania continues to build on its legacy as America’s first institution of higher education for African-Americans. Our Mission is to equip and empower students of diverse backgrounds to be visionary leaders in their chosen fields. We offer innovative approaches to teaching and quality academic programs that expose our students to pioneering ideas, research, and civic engagement. Our transformative approach to student development emphasizes the whole person, fostering success in the classroom, on campus, and in life.”

Cheyney University led the charge and opened the doors for so many Black students. They’ve proudly seen over 30,000 graduates walk across the stage to receive their diplomas over its 182 years.

Are you a student or graduate of Cheyney University? Let us know in the comments! We hope you’ve enjoyed our Black History Month features as much as we have enjoyed learning about and sharing them with you! Black History is American History.


Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

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