The Unique History of Alabama State University
"One must return to the past in order to move forward", is an old African proverb that has been used to explain the purpose of studying history. This African proverb not only refers to the study of American history, but also the study of one's family history. Another saying that has been used to refer to the study of history is, "You must learn your history, or you are bound to repeat it." These principles can apply to education as well. The purpose of attending college is to receive a formal education. The proper approach to begin college level studies is to learn your school's history. Enlightenment of the difficulties and barriers during the early stages of a school's development; in addition to a deeper respect for a university, can be obtained, and if obtained, will serve as extra motivation. This holds true on the campus of Alabama State University, in Montgomery, Alabama. The unique history of Lincoln Normal School, present day Alabama State University, is a major focus area in the study of this university's history.
Modern day Alabama State University is a product of the mid-nineteenth century idea, held by African Americans, to open universities for slaves. This idea was difficult to implement because most slaves were not educated, and there were no means of communication due to the lack of a unifying language. The end of the Civil War in 1865 heightened the nation's want, especially in the South, to provide a formal education for the newly freed slaves. The nation's first Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) were founded as a result. The first historic Black universities, which were founded with money from the American Missionary Association, and the famous Amistad trail, are Fisk University, Hampton University, Talladega College, and Lincoln Normal School. After these schools were established, it was still hard for a former-salve to obtain an education. Fisk University for example, only admitted those who were the children of a female slave and a white male, normally a slave master. Many schools during this time period adapted this same entrance criterion. A southern school, Lincoln Normal School, did not have any bias principles rooted in their entrance process.
Peyton Finley founded Lincoln Normal School, present-day Alabama State University in 1867, in Marion, Alabama. Peyton Finley is also noted for being the first African American appointed to the Alabama State Board of Education. Finley's involvement with the board of education allowed him to get the American Missionary Association and the Freemen's Bureau to provide books, supplies, teachers, and finances for the new school. However, in 1864, the American Missionary Association went bankrupt, and could no longer support Lincoln Normal School. Therefore, the African American community in Marion, Alabama supported the financial needs of the school. In 1874, Lincoln Normal School became the first state...