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Established by the General Assembly in 1891 for the instruction of the “Colored Race” in agriculture and the mechanical arts, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University has grown into a diverse institution on 200 acres in downtown Greensboro. The school graduates the largest number of African-American engineers at the undergraduate, masters, and doctoral levels in the nation. Among its alumni are the “Greensboro Four,” who initiated the sit-ins at Woolworth’s lunch counter in 1960, Jibreel Khazan, Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, and the late David Richmond; civil rights leader Jesse Jackson; and North Carolina jurist Henry Frye.
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The school had its beginnings in Raleigh. The terms of the Morrill Act, passed by Congress in 1890, provided for the funding of both the Agricultural and Mechanical College (present-day North Carolina State University) and the counterpart land grant institution for African Americans. Before either institution could receive funds, both had to be in operation. Consequently, the first classes for what would become A. & T. were operated as an annex to Shaw University in 1890-1893. A group of Greensboro citizens donated 14 acres and $11,000 in cash to provide for construction of a campus in their city. The first classes were held in Greensboro in 1893.
In 1915 the legislature changed the name of the school from the Agricultural and Mechanical College for the Colored Race to the Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina. In 1967 the school was elevated to university status and in 1972 it became a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina. Present enrollment exceeds 10,000.
Carrye Hill Kelley, Profiles of Five Administrators: The A.&T. College History-Digest (1964)
Albert W. Spruill, Great Recollections from Aggieland (1964)
William S. Powell, ed., Encyclopedia of North Carolina (2006)
North Carolina A.&T. State University website: http://www.ncat.edu/about/history.html