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Nathan B. Young and the Struggle over Black Higher Education

By Antonio F. Holland | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
Young at Florida Agricultural and
Mechanical College (1901–1923)

In 1901, after four years at Georgia State College, Young was elected president of the State Normal School for Negroes in Florida. Young never knew why he was elected. In fact, he was surprised that he was chosen in light of the history of the school.1 Florida Normal and Industrial School was established in 1887 as the “Colored School,” a normal institution; but it was referred to by all as the “State Normal College for Colored Students.” The school had come into existence through the efforts of Thomas V. Gibbs, a black representative in the Florida legislature, whose father, Jonathan C. Gibbs, had served as secretary of state from 1868 to 1873 and as superintendent of public instruction from 1873 to 1874 during the Reconstruction period in Florida. The Florida Constitutional Convention of 1885 had provided for a school for blacks, and Thomas Gibbs took advantage of this provision-sponsored legislation to establish the Normal and Industrial School.2

The first president of the school was Thomas de Saille Tucker, a lawyer in Pensacola at the time of his appointment. Born in Sherbro, Sierre Leone, West Africa, and brought to the United States by a missionary, Tucker enrolled in Oberlin College's preparatory

1. Young, “The Quest,” 66–67.

2. Leedel W. Neyland and John W. Riley, The History of Florida Agricul-
tural and Mechanical University
, 6–7. Thomas Gibbs was born in New York
but lived in Washington, D.C., and attended Howard University. He was
appointed to West Point but quit and attended Oberlin from 1873 to 1875.

-71-

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