By Leon County Public Information Office
In May, the Leon County Library hosted a community lecture series, which included a special look into the early beginnings of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). FAMU history professor Reginald Ellis, Ph.D., led the series installment at the B.L. Perry, Jr. Branch Library, which also commemorated the Annual Festival of Freedom honoring the first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in Tallahassee.
Titled “Thomas DeSaille Tucker and His Radical Approach to Black Higher Education,” Ellis presented an inspiring lecture that analyzed the role of Florida A&M University and its first president. The discussion on HBCUs at the dawn of the 20th century was centered on the famous question of liberal arts versus vocational education for African Americans. The lecture revealed the tactics that Tucker used to ensure funding and other forms of support for the young institution and gave a deeper look into his leadership strategies.
Dr. Ellis specializes in the history of HBCUs and African-American leaders during the Jim Crow Era. His research also concentrates on African Americans in U.S. History since 1887, contemporary African-American history and oral history.
“The Library Lecture Series offered our community an opportunity to pause and reflect on the 152nd anniversary of the end of slavery in Florida and the creation of the Florida State Normal and Industrial School for Coloreds, predecessor to Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University,” Ellis said. “It also examined the role that the Black middle-class had in shaping the ideas of Black colleges and universities.”