Historically Black College
The State of Texas is larger than all the Atlantic States from Maine to Virginia inclusive. Included in its population are two thirds of a million colored people. It is not surprising that, under these circumstances, the Board of Education for Negroes has a second school in the State. Located at Austin, only a few blocks from the imposing State Capitol building, stands Samuel Huston College. It has three principal school buildings in addition to the beautiful Eliza Dee Home, operated by the Woman's Home Missionary Society in connection with the school.
HISTORY OF THE SCHOOL
For nearly thirty years the colored people of Texas struggled to establish this school. They got the basement of one building up; then the money gave out, and for sixteen years the basement stood in the face of the beating rains unused. In 1898 the building was inclosed, but left unfinished inside. Two years later the Freedmen's Aid Society sent Dr. R. S. Lovinggood to open the school. When he arrived he found one floor finished and only four rooms available for use. Birds nested in the rafters, and pigs and goats slept in the basement. There was no kitchen, no dining hall, no dishes, no furniture. The first day eighty-three pupils enrolled and forty-one of them came to board.
President Lovinggood said of that experience: "The students sat on trunks while I gave them a lecture and went out to beg chairs, dishes, beds, etc. We called upon the neighbors, both white and black; all responded liberally. Our first meal was a jug of molasses and fourteen loaves of bread."
A "chair" social was given, at which the ticket of admission was a chair. Thirty-seven chairs were secured that way. Then followed a "sheet and pillow-case" entertainment; a "dish" social; a "laundry-equipment" fair, and similar events. Temporary rooms for dining hall and kitchen were prepared. President Lovinggood, his wife, and little boy lived in one room; eight girls occupied one room; one teacher and twenty boys stayed in four rooms.
DEVOTION OF THE COLORED PEOPLE
The devotion of the colored people to the school was most touching from the very first. For many years washerwomen came Saturday after Saturday with their small earning's tied in a handkerchief to divide with the school. After sharing their possessions they would kneel down with the president, pray for the school, and pass on. Day laborers brought their donations in weekly installments.
In this way one colored laborer gave more than two hundred and fifty dollars to the school.
"TREAT OTHERS BETTER THAN THEY TREAT YOU"
There was considerable opposition on the part of certain white people to the school, and some hard feeling and some definite persecution grew out of that fact. A white elementary school was not far away, and the children in passing to and from it used to make things rather uncomfortable for the students of Samuel Huston.
In the midst of these trying times a faculty meeting was held, and faculty and students were urged to speak no unkind word and to refrain from any rash act. In this crisis the present motto of the school was adopted: "Strive always to treat others better than they treat you." How wise this policy proved to be is perhaps demonstrated by the fact that, when President Lovinggood died sixteen years later, the Mayor of Austin and the City Council attended the funeral in a body and the Mayor spoke.
PRESIDENT R. S. LOVINGGOOD
The story of Samuel Huston College can never be told apart from that of President Lovinggood. He was born in South Carolina, in 1864. He used to speak of himself as a "mountain black." He learned his alphabet at the age of twelve years from a blue-backed speller in the Sunday school conducted in a little log Methodist Episcopal church. All his college preparatory work was done in this Sunday school. In 1881 he entered the elementary department of Clark University. He graduated from the classical course of Clark in 1890. For two years he published a weekly newspaper in Atlanta. He sold his interest in the paper, and became principal of a city school in Birmingham. In 1895 he was elected to the chair of Greek and Latin at Wiley University. There he stayed until he came to open Samuel Huston College in 1900. Weakened in body, he was obliged to give the strictest attention to diet, sleep, and special exercises. In spite of this limitation he was able to do a prodigious amount of work up until the time of his death in 1916, at the age of fifty-three. How well he lived is partly expressed in the words which were spoken of him at the time of his death:
He was kind. He was good. He
was fatherly. So many things have been left to remind us of him. He was a
dreamer who dreamed dreams, and worked them out for the benefit of others. His
joy was in seeing others' lives unfold. To him sacrifice was a pleasure. He
lived for others; he died for others. Greater love hath no man than this. In him
was love and his love was a cloak to all humanity. He loved mankind -- but he
had a double love for the black boys and girls of his race.
When I went away to school I was taught that God is our Father. I was taught to pray, "Our Father, who art in heaven." I was taught that God is no respecter of persons, that he hath made of one blood all nations. I was taught that our country guaranteed to every one the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I learned the famous words, "Give me liberty or give me death."
Now I obey the laws; I love my neighbors; I pay my taxes; I preach the gospel of good will and usefulness; I turn the other cheek. I begged twice to be permitted to join the army. I would die for Old Glory.
But I find with that noble Southern white man, ex-Congressman W. H. Fleming, that "Taxation without representation is unjust -- except as to Negroes; equal rights to all and special privileges to none is a good doctrine -- except as to Negroes; all men are created free and equal -- except as to Negroes; this is a government of the people and by the people -- except as to Negroes."
I am taxed, but I cannot vote.
I was in a Northern city, a stranger and hungry. I had money. There was an abundance of food, but I was compelled to feast on a box of crackers and a piece of cheese. I did not ask to eat with white people, but I did ask to eat.
I was traveling, I got off at a station almost starved. I begged a restaurant-keeper to put a lunch in a sack and to sell it to me out of the window. He refused. I was compelled to ride another hundred miles before I could get a sandwich.
And then he added, "It is true that I feel a kind of soul aristocracy, which is unruffled by many discriminations and annoyances."
E. T. BURROWES
Samuel Huston College received its name from an Iowa farmer who made a generous contribution to the school in the early days. Another man, who shared liberally in the development of the school, was E. T. Burrowes of Maine. He became interested in the project almost by chance through a paper placed in his hand by President E. O. Thayer of Clark University and a former teacher of Dr. Lovinggood. Without visiting the school Mr. Burrowes gave five thousand dollars toward the erection of the present main building, which bears his name. Later this initial gift was very largely increased. Opportunity finally came for him to visit the school, and he was moved to tears as he saw the pupils engaged in the activities of the school life. When he stood before the group in the chapel, he again broke down and could hardly speak. He wrote later:
After making an investment in this enterprise, I made a trip to Austin to inspect personally the work.
I was gratified beyond all expectation in the actual work done at this school. I
know of no place where an investment in educational work has brought such large
and immediate returns.
THE WORK OF THE SCHOOL
The emphasis of the school has been upon the providing of college, college-preparatory, industrial, musical, and normal courses. Possibly the largest present single task of the school is that of supplying adequately trained teachers for the many Negro schools in its vicinity which are in need of teachers. Through the agency of the Eliza Dee Home a thorough training is provided for the girls in domestic science and domestic art. The school has been crowded from the first and hundreds have been turned away for lack of room. The highest enrollment reached thus far has been 523. Recently a small farm has been purchased by the students and faculty for the use of the school. It is hoped to utilize this for purposes of agricultural training and also as a food-producing asset for the school.
THE PRESENT PRESIDENT
J. B. Randolph, the present president of Samuel Huston College, is himself a product of the schools of the Board of Education for Negroes. He was born in Mississippi in 1875. He moved to New Orleans, and graduated from New Orleans College in 1902, having taught school several years previous to that time. He assisted in connection with the Young People's Congress held at Atlanta in 1902, and in the fall of that year went to Wiley, where, as teacher at various times of Greek, Latin, French, Sociology, and Education, and as Dean of the College, he labored most effectively with Dr. Dogan in the building up of the school. In 1917 he was placed in charge of Haven Institute at Meridian, Mississippi. In June, 1920, he was transferred to Samuel Huston College. His personality, training, and practical experience should be worth much to the school.