One hundred and fifty years ago nine historically black colleges were founded, the largest number ever in a single year in the nation’s history.
In 2016, those nine institutions — Alabama State University, Barber-Scotia College, Fayetteville State University, Howard University, Johnson C. Smith University, Morehouse College, Morgan State University, St. Augustine’s University and Talladega College — formed a coalition they named “HBCU-9.”
Over three days in 2017, Sept. 28–30, the group hosted a Leadership Summit at Morgan State University, part of a weeklong HBCU-9 United Sesquicentennial Celebration commemorating the schools’ 150th anniversaries.
The Leadership Summit events on Thursday, Sept. 28 included a Unity Mile Torch Relay on Hillen Road from 33rd Street to Morgan’s Freedom Plaza; an Opening Ceremony at the Plaza; and a Sesquicentennial Choir Concert performed by singers from each of the nine institutions, directed by MSU Choir Director Eric Conway.
On Friday, top administrators of seven of the nine schools participated in a Leadership Roundtable Discussion, moderated by veteran White House Correspondent, CNN political analyst and Morgan graduate April Ryan, and a Leadership Fireside Chat, moderated by Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist and Morgan professor E.R. Shipp.
The closing session on Saturday, Sept. 30 featured a panel discussion with African-American higher education advocates on the topic “HBCUs at 150: The State of the Union,” moderated by Benjamin Jealous, former president and CEO of the NAACP.
Parallel activities at the nine schools in the four days preceding the Leadership Summit included the planting of a Sesquicentennial Tree on each campus. Morgan’s Sesquicentennial Tree is located on the Academic Quad in front at McMechen Hall.