Lincoln University in Missouri deactivates its History Department

Historians in the News
tags: education, Lincoln University



The school, founded by black Civil War vets, was cut due to low numbers of graduates over five years.

It’s hard to separate Lincoln University in Missouri from its history: after the Civil War, veterans of the 62nd and 65th U.S. Colored Infantries headed back to the Midwest from Texas and Louisiana, where they had served, to establish a school for African-Americans. The Lincoln Institute, named to honor the veterans' slain commander in chief, soon began offering college courses and became part of the black land-grant system. Decades later, in 1921, the Missouri Legislature passed a bill introduced by Walthall M. Moore, its first black member, renaming the institute as Lincoln University and establishing a Board of Curators.

But now that board has separated Lincoln from its history -- specifically its history program. The body this week voted 4 to 2 in a special meeting to deactivate the program for three years.

Some on campus fear the vote was really about condemning the major to a slow death.

“We all feel like this is an ominous, dreadful thing we’re headed toward -- the kind of irrevocable change that will prove destructive to the kind of institution we’re supposed to be,” said Bryan Salmons, president of Lincoln’s Faculty Senate and chair of the joint department of English, foreign languages and journalism.

Professors say it remains unclear why history in particular was targeted -- especially at a historically black institution founded in 1866. Black-college history departments are not only known for teaching history, but for promoting a broader view of history than what was until recently taught at many predominantly white institutions....





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