Not for ourselves alone: The legacies of two pioneers of Black higher educational institutions in the United States

Hakim Jabez Lucas, Fordham University


For over 200 years Black colleges and universities have been at the center of the African American community. The legacy of these institutions has been to equip African Americans with the skills needed to be successful leaders. The study considers the leadership of Bishop Daniel Alexander Payne of the Wilberforce University and Rev. Dr. Joseph Robert of Morehouse College as pioneers of Black higher education. A historical research project, the study aims to respond to the research question: if the quality of leadership is the most important element in the production of a quality College or University then what are the important variables, incidents, and/or circumstances that result in the duplication or reproduction of quality amongst all Black higher educational institutions? An important dimension of this study is the data collection and analysis of artifacts that uncover Presidents Payne and Robert's leadership style and approach. Comparing and contrasting their leadership dynamics, this study uses Dr. James Alan Laub's (2000) Organizational Leadership Assessment to analyze these presidents' use of servant leadership in creating servant institutions. This comparative historical study found that both colleges sought to: (a) develop strategic partnerships with their founding religious organizations to support student success; (b) partner with Black religious and civic organizations; (c) create an organizational structure to sustain growth, ensure increased enrollment and support institutional needs, and, (d) emphasize the importance of developing practical experience through civic engagement. They differed however in that: (a) Wilberforce was founded by the majority Black AME Church, while Morehouse was founded by the majority White ABHMS; (b) Wilberforce was founded as a coeducational institution, while Morehouse evolved into a college for men only; (c) Wilberforce was founded as a liberal arts college, while Morehouse was founded as a seminary, and, (d) Wilberforce grew its campus in the same location it was founded, while Morehouse relocated on three different occasions in search of the best academic environment. Overall these colleges were founded and led by Christian believers in religious education for freedmen, who realized the importance of higher education for the self-empowerment of Black people.

Subject Area

African American Studies|Biographies|Black history|Educational leadership|Education history|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Lucas, Hakim Jabez, "Not for ourselves alone: The legacies of two pioneers of Black higher educational institutions in the United States" (2010). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3428960.