Once upon a time, two colleges sat literally across the street from each other. One was Jackson State College, and the other was the answer to today’s trivia–(B.) Campbell College.
Campbell College began in Vicksburg in 1890 as a project of Bethel A.M.E. Church. Classes were originally held in Bethel Hall–a space located at the rear of the church–and the college eventually developed the first industrial arts curriculum for African Americans in the State of Mississippi.
In 1899, the African Methodist Episcopal Church decided to move Campbell College from Vicksburg to Jackson, Mississippi. A 1938 report from the Works Progress Administration describes the campus as
“composed of two brick buildings three stories in height and several frame buildings, including the residence of the president…It has a high school department and offers a four-year college course leading to the Bachelor of Science Degree.”
Students at Campbell College were active in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1960, student body president, Charles Jones, led students in a boycott of businesses on Capitol Street. The following year, the College opened its doors to many of McComb’s Burgland High School students who had been arrested for a peaceful protest and expelled for refusing to sign a letter that would bind them from participating in future protests.
The arrests and expulsions had blacklisted the students from enrolling in other school districts for the rest of the year, and Campbell College saw to it that the students still received an education.
Campbell College occupied the northern side of John R. Lynch Street as Jackson State College occupied the southern side for many years. In fact, Campbell College was in West Jackson before Jackson State moved across the street (Jackson State moved onto Lynch Street in 1904). Nevertheless, Campbell College gradually grew financially weaker and in 1964, the campus that had become deteriorated and in debt, was seized through eminent domain by the State of Mississippi. The land from this seizure was turned over to Jackson State College, thus merging the two campuses.
That’s it for this week’s Black History edition of WESTerday Trivia. Y’all come back later, ya hear?
Mississippi Black History Makers by George A. Sewell and Margaret L. Dwight
Campbell College by the Margaret Walker Alexander National Research Center
Mississippi: The WPA Guide to the Magnolia
History of Higher Education Annual by Roger Geiger