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2010 - 95th Annual Convention Words: 425 words || 
1. Suggs, Henry. "James Edward Shepard: Genealogy, Education, Culture and The Empowerment of the Liberal Arts" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 95th Annual Convention, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh, North Carolina, Sep 29, 2010 <Not Available>. 2020-02-29 <>
Publication Type: Individual Paper
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: PROPOSAL


Audience: The History faculty of NCCU, Shaw, St. Augustine’s University

I wish to present an institutional analysis of James Edward Shepard and the history of North Carolina Central University (1910-1947) at the 95th anniversary convention of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) in Raleigh, NC in September 2010.

The analysis will begin with a brief sketch of Shepard’s early years in Raleigh, NC. It will briefly detail the Shepard family and Shepard’s early years as a field secretary for the International Sunday School Movement (ISS). It was the ISS which imbued Shepard with the need to establish a school to train African-Americans for the ministry. He traveled as a field secretary to Rome, Italy in May 1907, and it was this experience which convinced him to establish a National Religious Training School. He selected Durham because of its location. He modeled the school after existing nondenominational schools in Minnesota.

He established the National Religious Training School and Chautauqua in 1910. The school bankrupted in 1915 and was quickly resurrected as the National Training School. World War I catapulted Shepard as a premier national leader and elevated the NTS as a citadel of learning. In 1925, the school evolved as North Carolina College and was one of the first African-American state supported liberal arts colleges. Correspondingly, as a national leader, he interacted regularly with the various presidents of the U.S. and with prominent race leaders such a Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, John C. Dancy, James O’Hara, James Weldon Johnson, N.C. Newbold, R.R. Moton, and others At this time, Shepard was “on a fixed road to destiny,” and North Carolina College was revered as “the best Negro school in the South.”

This paper will analyze the meteoric academic rise of North Carolina College and the techniques and strategy that Shepard employed to survive the Great Depression. Despite the worst depression in the history of the U.S., unlike many other small historically black colleges, the school survived, and correspondingly began to offer high caliber courses in education, nursing, library science, graduate studies, and law. A law school was established in 1939.

At the time of Shepard’s death in 1947, N.C. College was one of the most revered and respected institutions in the South. James Edward Shepard changed the history and the historiography of American education.

H. Lewis Suggs, Ph.D
Professor Emeritus of American History, Clemson University
Former Scholar-in-Residence, NCCU

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