1600 Harden Street
Founded in 1870 as Benedict Institute by the American Baptist Home Mission Society to educate freedmen and their descendants, Benedict College was named for Rhode Island abolitionists Stephen and Bathsheba Benedict. Mrs. Benedict provided $13,000 to purchase the land on this 110-acre plantation site. The former slave holder’s dilapidated residence became the college’s first building. Initially offering primary, secondary and college-level classes, in 1894, the school was chartered as a liberal arts college and the name was changed to Benedict College. The institution later focused solely on college students, providing African Americans access to higher education during segregation. Like its counterpart, Allen University, Benedict regularly hosted civil rights speakers, and its students were an integral part of the 1960s sit-ins and the major 1963 demonstration at the State House.
Benedict’s early goal was to train teachers and preachers. Like Allen, Benedict was built on a portion of the Latta Plantation site. The school history credits Mrs. Benedict as the founder, having provided the funds to purchase the site. The college not only provided education for African American students during segregation but is still active today and was recently named the top HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) in the country.
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