Chartered in 1909 as a private institution, the National Religious Training School and Chautauqua was founded and opened in 1910 under the leadership of Dr. James E. Shepard, who would serve as president of the school until 1947. The institution’s mission was to develop in young black men and women character and sound academic training. Initially, financial support came only from private donations and student fees. The lack of funding led to the school being sold and reorganized, becoming the National Training School in 1915. Mrs. Russell Sage, a New York philanthropist, made generous contributions to the school around that time.
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In 1923, the school became publicly supported. The General Assembly of North Carolina provided for the purchase and maintenance of what became known that same year as Durham State Normal School. Two years later, the General Assembly renamed the school the North Carolina College for Negroes (NCC), refocusing the program on liberal arts education and preparation of graduate students in becoming teachers and principals. Hence, NCC became the first state supported liberal arts college for African American students in the nation.
In 1929, with the support of Governor Angus W. McLean, the school graduated its first four-year class. Appropriations from the state were complemented by generous gifts from Benjamin N. Duke, a Durham philanthropist and industrialist, and by donations from the citizens of Durham. In 1939 NCC established a graduate work program in liberal arts and the professions. The school of law was instituted in 1940 and the school of library science opened the following year. As a result of increased growth and expansion, the legislature changed the school’s name to North Carolina College at Durham in 1947. The college became part of the University of North Carolina system as North Carolina Central University on July 1, 1969.
William S. Powell, Higher Education in North Carolina (1970)
William S. Powell, ed., Encyclopedia of North Carolina (2006)
Julian B. Roebuck and Khomanduri S. Murty, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (1993)
North Carolina Central University website: http://www.nccu.edu
James Shepard statue at NCCU