First Black College Graduates

The African American community has gone through a lot of fighting and tears to be able to live a normal life like every other race. One of the biggest accomplishments of history for the first time for the Black community was the first Black man and woman to graduate from college.

Mary Jane Patterson was known as an important educator and the first Black woman to graduate from college in the United States. Mary Jane Patterson was born as a slave in 1840 and died in 1894 at the age of 54-years old as a free woman. She graduated from Oberlin College in 1862 with her bachelor’s degree. Mrs. Patterson worked as a teacher making her way up to principal in 1871. Patterson opened many doors for Black African American women and showed Black women and men that it was indeed possible to obtain a bachelor’s degree against all odds. 

John Chavis is known as the first Black man to graduate from Washington and Lee University with a college degree in the United States. Although he was the first African American to receive a college degree, he is actually not well known by the rest of society. He was born as a free person unlike Mary Jane Patterson who was born a slave. Chavis decided to attend the College of New Jersey now formally known as Princeton University in 1792. While attending there, he majored in ministry and graduated as an honor graduate in 1799. He then went on to be the first African American preacher that received his licenses from the Presbyterian church in the United States during the 1800s.

In conclusion, it is important to know and embrace history. Patterson and Chavis both are historical figures in African American history. Graduating from college is a huge achievement and is something that should be celebrated. Even though Black History Month has ended, we should still pay our respects to the ones before us by educating ourselves more on our history.