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Learn about the first African Americans at Hanover
through their own words and from historical documents ---




A Brief History of Race Relations at Hanover College, 1832-1980

Racial equality was a founding principle for Hanover College.  John Finley Crowe, who started the school that became Hanover College, was an abolitionist, as was James Blythe, the College's first president.  

Benjamin Templeton, Hanover's first African-American student, enrolled as a preparatory student in 1832 and stayed for four years.  He chose to leave for seminary before graduating, but the community seems to have welcomed him, and his time at Hanover was uneventful.

Unfortunately, the college changed its position thirty years after its founding.  In 1857, Moses Broiles was the second African American to apply for admission, but his application was rejected.  Apparently, the faculty and Board of Trustees chose to abandon the College's founding principles because they feared that admitting an African-American student might reduce white enrollment or cause conflict on campus.
 
Hanover maintained this segregationist policy for almost one hundred years.

In 1948, Alma Gene Prince, from nearby Madison, applied for admission as a transfer student.  So far as the record shows, she was the first African American to apply for admission since Moses Broiles.  Although there was some quiet and ugly opposition to having an African American on campus, most welcomed Prince, and she became Hanover's first African-American graduate in 1951.

The Board of Trustees officially affirmed the integration of the College in 1954, but years went by without any additional African-American students.

Warner Spencer was the next African American to be admitted, in 1957 -- one hundred years after the College had rejected Moses Broiles.  Spencer graduated in 1961. About ten more African Americans attended over the rest of the 1960s, and about a dozen in the 1970s.

See this bibliography for sources and more historical context.




Timeline