It was six months after the end of the Civil War and the American Baptist Mission Home Society came South in the person of Henry Martin Tupper, who founded a church and the Raleigh Institute, to provide theological education for freedmen.
Slaves, of course, had been suppressed, sometimes violently so, in any attempts to get even the most basic education. Now the end of the war would bring opportunity, however limited. It would be some time, too long, before anything approaching a chance at higher learning such as that available to whites would exist.
The Raleigh Institute, later to become what is now Shaw University, would be the first in a category now called HBCUs, or Historically Black Colleges and Universities. There would be multitudes of struggles under many leaders along the way, many of them financial, as this and other private historically black colleges fought to survive.
But Shaw, which this year is celebrating its 150th anniversary, has survived, against the odds perhaps, and with some years a considerable struggle.
This year is a celebration of survival, of what has been accomplished against tremendous odds. Let alums and students, then, come together this year to toast all that their university is, and all they want it to become.