For more than a century, the institution of higher learning w kwn as Alcorn State University has been devoted to the education of black students. Historically established for this purpose, Alcorn has struggled against great odds. This new history of Alcorn reveals the unrelenting hove and support of its community and alumni as they face the challenges of streamlining programs and making modifications to century-old traditions. The roots of Alcorn extend back to 1830 and the antebellum Oakland College, a Presbyterian institution which closed during the Reconstruction era. In 1871 Mississippi's first black senator, Hiram R. Revels, returned to Mississippi to head the new institution on the Oakland campus, to be kwn as Alcorn. This history updates the centennial history of Alcorn published in 1971 by showing how in the face of new challenges the university persists with its mission of educating citizens for the modern world. One of the chief struggles has been to maintain its distinctive identity as social and interracial changes confront long-established traditions and wide-scale community support of the system. Here Alcorn State University is shown t only in its rich heritage of public education as the first land-grant institution for black students but also in its struggles through the years to reach peaks of excellence in academic programs, in faculty development, in the enrichment of student life, and in its nationally rewned athletic programs that consistently bring Alcorn acclaim. Struggling against great odds has remained one of Alcorn's hallmarks. This comprehensive history shows the university moving confidently into the twenty-first century proud of its distinctive heritage and intent on removing obstacles that threaten to check a long-established tradition for excellence.
Josephine McCann Posey is an associate professor of Education at Alcorn State University.