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Attempt to Create HBCU in New Haven

In 1831, Peter Williams, a Black minister of a New Haven Church, and Simeon Jocelyn, a white abolitionist came together. They had an idea of creating a Black college in New Haven, which they referred to at the time as a “Negro College,” and which we would now call an HBCU. They announced the idea on September 7, 1831, at the Center Church on the Green. When Mayor Kimberly heard about the idea he called for a town meeting, to oppose the college.

The Mayor formed a 13-member committee against the idea for a Black college. This committee of lawyers, Yale faculty, and members of the New Haven elite argued against the college. In their own words they wrote, “The establishment of a College in the same place to educate the colored population is incompatible with the prosperity, if not the existence of the present institutions of learning, and will be destructive of the best interests of the city…” In other words, they revealed their racism by claiming that a Black college would damage Yale and New Haven. They went on to say that a Black college would be “dangerous” because it would destabilize the institution of slavery, and bring the country one step closer to abolition. With a vote of 700 - 4 the idea for a “Negro” College was turned down. 

Can you imagine how different -- how much better -- New Haven would be if our city was home to one of the first HBCU’s in the country? If you would like to learn more about the history of HBCUs, we recommend the documentary “Tell Them We Are Rising” by Stanley Nelson.

A Peoples' History of Dixwell
  1. Dixwell Tour Intro
  2. Hillhouse High School
  3. Directions to Monterey Jazz Club
  4. Monterey Jazz Club
  5. Directions to Hannah Gray Home
  6. Hannah Gray Home
  7. Directions to John Daniels Place
  8. John Daniels Place
  9. Directions to Goffe Street School
  10. Goffe Street School
  11. Directions to Negro YMCA
  12. Negro YMCA
  13. Directions to Masonic Temple
  14. Masonic Temple
  15. Directions to Q House
  16. Q House
  17. Directions to Bristol Street
  18. Bristol Street
  19. Directions to Grove Street Cemetery
  20. Grove Street Cemetery
  21. Directions to Attempt to Make an HBCU in New Haven
  22. Attempt to Create HBCU in New Haven
  23. Directions to Yale Law School
  24. Jane Matilda Bolin and Pauli Murray
  25. Directions to Grace Hopper College
  26. College Renamed
  27. Directions Back to Hillhouse High School
  28. End of Dixwell Tour