By Gloria Dulan-Wilson
Now, as many of you know, I am a proud graduate and alumn of Lincoln University, PA - the first Black University in the United States. There are times when I brag on LU to the point of being obnoxious. And I suspect that there are others among us who share the same sentiment.
Lincoln University is the only Black College on the east coast, north of the Macon Dixon line. It was founded in 1854 - even before the Civil War was fought - and before the Emancipation Proclamation. Originally named Ashmun Institute, it was renamed Lincoln University in 1866 after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
Such icons as Thurgood Marshall '30, first Black Supreme Court Justice; Langston Hughes '29 poet, philosopher, playwright; actor Roscoe Lee Brown '46; its alumni, among the most notable including Hildrus A. Poindexter, '24, internationally known authority on tropical diseases; Jacqueline Allen, '74, judge for the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia; and Eric C. Webb, '91, author, poet and editor-in-chief of Souls of People.
Lincoln has a Legacy of Producing Leaders - we are the only Black college to have given Africa two (2) presidents: Nnamde Azikewe '30 of Nigeria and Kwame Nkrumah '39 of Ghana, both of whom were instrumental in liberating their countries. In addition to having given dual doctorates to President and First Lady Jerry John Rawlings and wife Nana Rawlings, who followed in Nkrumah's footsteps, using many of the same policies to take Ghana to the next level. Other notables are Rev. James Robinson, '35, founder of Crossroads Africa, which served as the model for the Peace Corps; and Sibusio Nkomo, Ph.D., '81, chairperson, National Policy Institute of South Africa.
Lincoln's campus was the playground for activist and NAACP icon Julian Bond, who grew up there during the tenure of his father, Horace Mann Bond, who graduated from LU in 1923. In his book, "Education for Freedom," Horace Mann Bond writes: Lincoln University is "the first institution found anywhere in the world to provide a higher education in the arts and sciences for male youth of African descent." Bond served as Lincoln's 8th president.
Historically speaking, it was against the law to each Black men to read and write back in the 1800's - especially in the South, where slavery was the widely practiced rule, rather than the exception. Lincoln U was established by John Miller Dickey and his wife, Sarah Emlen Cresson, for the sons of slave masters who wanted a better life for their offspring. They could have been hung for having established a similar institution anywhere south of the Macon-Dixon Line. However, just north of the Maryland Pennsylvania state line (near Rising Sun, MD, which later became a KKK stronghold), Lincoln University, of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, was originaly chartered in April 1854 as Ashmun Institute, and will celebrate its 160th Anniversary in 2014.
The Lincoln of today is surrounded by the rolling farmlands and wooded hilltops of southern Chester County, Pennsylvania. When I was a student it was located near the mushroom farming capital of the world, and there were days when the scent of mushrooms was the most heinous thing you could do to your nostrils. Our campus is located on Baltimore Pike, about one mile off US Route 1 – 45 miles southwest of Philadelphia, 15 miles northwest of Newark, Delaware, 25 miles west of Wilmington, Delaware, and 55 miles north of Baltimore, Maryland. We used to have regular bus service between Philly, LU and Baltimore, via Greyhound bus; however, somewhere along the line the routes were changed and the only way to the campus is via private vehicle.
Lincoln used to be known as the "Black Princeton" because of its high educational standards. And, while women started attending the school in the 1950's, it was still an all male school until it became co-ed in 1965, when women were given their own on-campus dormitories. There were more than a number of illustrious alumns who did not like the concept of it becoming co-ed. The guys who attended LU were, for the most part, natural born iconoclasts. They were rebels in the rough and they liked it that way. They felt that the lay out of the campus, away from urban convenience, was a test and testiment to their manhood.
Just for the record, meanstream PR machinations to the contrary, Lincoln has always been - and will always be a BLACK college - international in scope, with students from all over Africa, the Caribbean, and Black students from all over the US.
Located in southern Chester County (near Amish country), Lincoln is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and offers academic programs in undergraduate study in the arts, sciences as well as graduate programs in human services, reading, education, mathematics, and administration. The University has always had a high quality faculty who set records in their teaching, research, and service. In the past, such luminaries as Dr. Charles V. Hamilton, author with activist Stokely Carmichael of BLACK POWER, as well as the definitive book on the life of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., chaired the political science department, while at the same time serving as legal counsel for SNCC (the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee). So you might say that Lincoln has always played a major role in the forward movement and liberation of Black people both directly and vicarously.
According their stats: "During the first one hundred years of its existence, Lincoln graduated approximately 20 percent of the Black physicians and more than 10 percent of the Black attorneys in the United States. Its alumni have headed over 35 colleges and universities and scores of prominent churches. At least 10 of its alumni have served as United States ambassadors or mission chiefs. Many are federal, state and municipal judges - Paul Moore '66, and several have served as mayors or city manager..." housing coordinators, bloggers, and journalists (uh, that would be me, Gloria Dulan-Wilson); not to mention authors, activists, educators, such as S.E. (Sam) Anderson '66, author of the Black Holocaust for Beginners; and so many more.
Now, why am I spending so much time telling you all this? Why is this so important? Because there appears to be a move afoot to make truly Historically Black Universities and Colleges, a/k/a HBCU's, a thing of the past. There's an ugly rumor going around that they are no longer necessary. That, today, we can go to any school there is. And, while that's partially true, it's mostly false.
It's so ridiculous to think that were will ever be a time when Black colleges are no longer needed, or important. Try telling Jewish brothers and sisters that Yeshivas are no longer needed; try telling whites that they no longer need both Yale and Harvard, or Princeton, and they'll personally enroll you in the closest insane asylum. But, somehow, when it comes to Blacks, people seem to think our culture, heritage and future are disposable, and are only relevant vis a' vis what the meanstream deems relevant. Well, it's one thing for outsiders to think and feel that way; but it's another thing entirely if we co-sign it. And by by the actions and words of many of our brothers and sisters, they seem to have drunk the koolaide that leads to self-destruction and dis-integration.
Think about it for a minute - do you really think that all of the cumulative culture, that has gone to make us who we are today, will suddenly disappear in less than 40 years? All of our HBCU's - Lincoln U/PA, Hampton, Howard, Dillard, Xavier, Florida A&M, Morgan State, North Carolina A&T, Central State (Wilberforce, OH), Langston U (Oklahoma), Tuskeegee, Bethune-Cookman - to name a few, have been, and must continue to be the mainstain of our educational underpinnings. The nurturing and mentoring afforded me, my fellow students, and those who have come behind me(including my youngest daughter, Adiya '03), have been the very backbone of what has moved us forward. There would have been no Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall, had there not been a "Goody" at Lincoln U. Incubator, nurturer, inspiration - our Alma Mater has served us well, and continues to do so.
Yet, we find so many of our brothers and sisters not sending their off spring to Black colleges, under the misapprehension that somehow they will do better going to a meanstream college. They appear to be totally surprised when what returns to them four years later, is totally devoid of character, concern, or culture. Oh, they may do all right economically - but we lose a generation that should have been a cohesive part of our continued movement forward. Johnnie Cochran once said that most Black people suffer from a concept that "the white man's ice is colder," as a result, when it comes time to chose between our own, and theirs, we chose theirs.
So this communique is to my fellow Lincoln Lions and Lionesses, who live here in New York City, regardless of what year you graduated, or what field you're in - and you know who you are - why so silent? You have much to brag about, much to be proud of. You have an amazing legacy of leaders to which you belong!!
I know that you're busy changing the world. But the New York City Lincoln University Alumni Association needs you too. We are at a major crossroads in the future of our Alma Mater. It's time to step up, step out, and stick together. Please contact me, Gloria Dulan-Wilson, as soon as you read this message. I'm posting it on my Blog because I don't have everyone's email addresses (by the way, if you didn't go to Lincoln, but know someone who did, please pass this on to them - thanks). We need to hear from you immediately, if not sooner. Please send me the following info:
Name (regular & Rabble):___________________________________________________________
Email Address: ___________________________________________________________________
Home Address: ___________________________________________________________________
Phone Number(s): _________________________________________________________________
Year you graduated:__________ Major______________________________ Degree____________
Occupation & Title:________________________________________________________________
We are on a tight timeline. As you know, LU's homecoming weekend starts October 26. We have some pivotal business that requires your attention immediately, so your response to this email by Monday, October 22, is crucial.
My email address is: email@example.com.
We have been blessed to have graduated from the grandmother of all Black colleges, and to have the great good fortune to have some trailblazers who keep setting the pace and raising the bar. Let's make sure there's a Lincoln University for our children and their children and for generations to come.
Let us hear from you and let's get busy. See you at homecoming weekend!!
Hail! Hail! LINCOLN!!
Stay Blessed &
Gloria Dulan-Wilson '67