New Book Explores the History of Storer College in West Virginia

Storer_CollegeStorer College was founded in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, in 1865 by the Freewill Baptist Home Mission Society. It was the first college in West Virginia that admitted African Americans.

The college was the site of the second national conference of the Niagara Movement in 1906. Frederick Douglass spoke on campus in 1881.

After the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education and the subsequent racial integration of colleges and universities in West Virginia, Storer College closed its doors in 1955. Its campus is now part of the Harpers Ferry National Historic Park. Its endowment was transferred to Virginia Union University in Richmond. Virginia Union University now considers Storer graduates as its alumni.

The story of this unique chapter in Black higher education history is told in a new book An American Phoenix: A History of Storer College From Slavery to Desegregation, 1865-1955 (West Virginia University Press, 2015). The book is authored by Dawne Raines Burke, an assistant professor of education at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. The research for the book was done in conjunction with Dr. Burke’s doctoral dissertation at Virginia Tech.

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