Historically Black College
Third Building: Bishop Hall, a girls dormitory of brick was erected 1884, and was known as Bishop Hall in honor of Mrs. C. C. Bishop.
—Rev. L. M. Luke, of Texas : " There may be ministers struggling like I am and have been. I live in Marshall, Texas, but was born in Louisiana, and am now about thirty-one years old. I have been in the church twenty-one years. My mother never saw me. She was blind. I have been struggling, working right along trying to educate myself for seven or eight years. I thank God that I can say since I have been in the church the Lord has used me. I have added to the church over one thousand four hundred people. There sits a man over there, Dr. Culver, who has been a father to me. He has helped me in my efforts for the past eight years. I believe in an educated ministry. I was converted when I was ten years old and was baptized. I went into the ministry when I was sixteen years old. I always had a good voice, and my preaching for a while was all voice. I scared a number into the church that way I guess. I always believed the Lord would open up a way by which I could improve myself and I adopted the 32d Psalm, 3d verse : 'Trust in the Lord and do good.' About nine years ago when the Association met at Jefferson, Texas, Brother Hayden told them that the Society had appointed Dr. Marston to travel among the colored people and lecture to them. We invited him to come to Marshall to our Association, and right there the foundation of Bishop College was laid. Dr. Culver came there and I had a good service and talked in a quiet way, so quietly in fact, that Dr. Culver thought I had been doing nothing all my life, and that the loafers, dead beats and tramps had come around and called my people away from me. But I stuck to that quiet way of preaching for four or five years until Mr. Jennings, a prominent democrat, said the Baptist church was an example to the whites. They call me a white folks' negro there, any way. I got an organ through Dr. Marston, and the first time that organ was played on Sunday one of the colored sisters came very near breaking down the door in her hurry to get out. She said we had a fiddle in the church. Just think of eight years ago and now. When I go in my church now and see all those intelligent boys and girls come in from Bishop College, and I hear that organ playing, my soul is wafted higher and higher towards my Master's kingdom."
BISHOP COLLEGE. Hearne Academy, at Hearne, Texas, was started seven or eight years ago by some influential brethren in that part of the State, who endeavored to make it the school which should gather to itself the sympathies and the contributions of the colored Baptists of the State. After a hard struggle it hashad to suspend its work. This is but another of many illustrations how difficult it is to maintain a school even after property has been
Bishop College, therefore, stands as the chief institution for the colored Baptists of Texas. It is in a very prosperous condition. It has had marked influence for good throughout the State and undoubtedly ranks with the best of our schools in the South.
REV. S. W. CULVER, PRESIDENT.
The closing of the Eighth Annual Session of Bishop College was as pleasant as could be desired, and very encouraging as to the future prosperity of the Institution. Our agent on the field had done excellent work in correcting wrong impressions and rectifying public sentiment. The organization of the school, its relation to the Board of the Home Mission Society, and to the colored people, are far better understood, and the result is that where one year ago there was suspicion, and in some cases open or covert hostility, there is now friendliness and appreciation, and apparently a disposition to co-operate.
The average attendance this year, exclusive of the Model School, has been larger than ever before, and more than usual of our boarders remained to the close. This of itself is encouraging. One of the most serious difficulties we have had to meet in our educational work, has been the brief space of time that a large part of our students have remained in school. The idea that education can be obtained in a few weeks is being slowly corrected, and students and their parents are beginning to understand that if they would get the best good of the school they must come to stay. Especially has the brevity of their stay worked to the very great disadvantage of the theological class. A course in any branch of sacred study takes time. Men may receive good by coming in for a term or two, but not near what they might gain in as many sessions. The writer has been asked " Why do you not publish a regular theological course?" The ready reply is, " It is useless to announce a course when it is certain that nobody is going over it. Give us the men to pursue it, and we will have the course ready for them." The truth is, though, that we are doing what we can to take our students over the first steps of a theological course. A few have made such progress in the use of the Analysis of Christian Doctrine, prepared by the writer, that they have been organized into a second class for the study of early Christian history. Exegesis and sermonizing have also received special attention. It has been the hope that the Theological Department of Bishop College might grow to be, to the colored Baptists west of the Mississippi River, what Richmond Theological Seminary is to the East.
It is the purpose that the educational work in this school should be distinguished for thoroughness. The student is required not only to know the subject theoretically, but to be able to make rapid practical application of what he knows. \Ve proceed on the assumption that the same grade and quality of training that will educate a white student is required to educate a negro. That, in short, education is precisely the same for the black as for the white. And it must be conceded that by far the greater difficulties lie in the way of the Southern negro. If he reaches the same position to which the white student has been floated on an ever-rising tide of culture, it is only because he has conquered greater obstacles and exercises a more heroic perseverance.
The statements so often made that it has come to be regarded as well nigh axiomatic, that the negro is naturally very religious, has not been confirmed in my observation and experience. If by religion is meant the exercise of an intelligent and principled faith in Christ, I should say exactly the reverse is true. As the aimless and unthinking sentimentalisms and puerile superstitions are given up, and the resulting excitements and dissipations are abandoned, there is danger that an equally unintelligent indifferentism will supervene, drifting naturally into the total eclipse of faith in utter irreligion. The Bible work of the school is without doubt the best antidote to this tendency. Here the truth as it is in Jesus is inculcated day after day, line upon line, and precept upon precept, in regular repetitious class exercise, and thus many gross and injurious errors are dislodged, and an intelligent and healthful religious influence exerted, that will doubtless bear fruit beyond the classroom, in the homes, and among the thousands of people that are scattered abroad.
On the whole, the past session of Bishop College has been more prosperous in every respect than could have been anticipated. The closing week was devoted especially to sermons and addresses and the rhetorical exercises of the students. The pastors of the white Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches, as also the principal of the Young Ladies' Seminary, contributed by appropriate addresses to the interest of the occasion. Finally, on Thursday morning came the commencement exercises—which we will not describe, but only say they were regarded by visitors present, both white and colored, as of unusually high order of merit. They concluded with the graduation of the first student who has taken his entire course of study in Bishop College, and completed the classical college course. Then came the leave-taking, and everybody went away apparently well pleased and predicting a greatly increased attendance next session.
following were appointed teachers:
At midnight, as I alighted at Bishop College, there was a hearty greeting from President Culver. During my previous visit, seven years ago, plans were made for the erection of " Bishop Hall." It was completed in 1884, and is a beautiful and commodious building, with a charming frontage on the campus which is thickly studded with numerous ornamental trees. The grounds are enclosed by a very neat picket fence, built chiefly by the students. It has become a model after which some of the citizens of Marshall have patterned in fencing their yards.
The accommodations have been overtaxed and the problem is how to provide for the larger number that are sure to come. A larger chapel, in which Commencement exercises also can be held, seems to be a necessity. This, with two stories for dormitories above it, might be built at the front of " Marston Hall" for about $12,000 or $15,000. Then a suitable laundry building to cost about $1,500 or $2,000 is required. Besides these, about $500 for the industrial building and equipment. There seems to be no end to wants in these growing schools. But, if Providence crowds us with enlarged demands, somehow, at some time, they must and will be met.
There has been a great increase of interest in the Institution on the part of the colored Baptists of Texas, both because of the good work done and because of the efforts in its behalf of the Society's excellent representatives in the State, Rev. A. R. Griggs and Rev. L. M. Luke. Among the students was one from southern California, sent hither by her parents because of the reputation of the school for thoroughness in its work. Many of the best pupils earn from $50 to $75 per month for about four months, teaching public schools in the State. To do this, however, breaks up a year's continuous course of study, though with this disadvantage there are compensations. Probably the colored people of Texas are on the whole in better financial circumstances than those of almost any other State of the Union. An indication of this is found in the fact that of last year's school accounts only six dollars remains unpaid. Some credit for this, however, is due to the diligence and tact of Prof. H. H. Culver, who attends to the collection of bills, etc.
Of course the students had to be addressed by the representative of the Society. At the close, by a rising vote, the whole school expressed its thanks and sent greetings to its munificent founder and patron, Mrs. C. C. Bishop, of New Jersey. And since my return to the Rooms, President Culver has forwarded the generous contribution of $123.40 from teachers and students for the work of the Society.
Regretting that it was impracticable to remain longer, I took the 3.30 P. M. train for Little Rock, Ark., reaching my destination at 1.30 Wednesday morning.
by Henry Lyman Morehouse, William W. Bliss, Thomas Jefferson Morgan, American Baptist Home Mission Society - 1889