This Day in History: 1895-02-28

Bluefield Colored Institute is founded in Bluefield, West Virginia, as a “high graded school” for African American youth in the surrounding area. It is known today as Bluefield State College and is a part of West Virginia’s public education system. Despite tenuous funding, hostility from the state, and distance from northern cities, the college was heavily involved in the explosion of Black American culture known as the “Harlem Renaissance” of the 1920s and 1930s. Langston Hughes read poetry, John Hope Franklin taught Negro History, and heavyweight champion Joe Louis boxed exhibitions on campus. Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Dizzie Gillespie, and Count Basie entertained at campus events. Bluefield State’s “Big Blue” football team twice won national Negro College Athletic Association championships in the late 1920s. Bluefield was one of the first historically Black colleges/universities (HBCU) to become and remain predominantly white. Learn more.