1600 Harden Street1600 Harden Street
The American Baptist Home Missionary Society founded the Benedict Institute in 1870 to educate freedmen and their descendants. It was named for Rhode Island philanthropist Bathsheba Benedict, who provided the $13,000 payment needed to purchase the eighty-acre Latta Plantation and who continued to support the institute with later gifts. Robert Latta's former residence became the college's first building. The school had an enrollment of more than one hundred students for most of the mid-1870s. Instruction began on the grammar-school level but soon expanded to include teacher training and a college preparatory course. It was rechartered as Benedict College, a liberal arts college, in 1894.
Benedict College's early mission was to train teachers and preachers.The institution later focused solely on college students, providing African Americans access to higher education during Jim Crow 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.
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