Thomas Van Renssalaer Gibbs (1855–1898) was a member of the 1885 Florida Constitutional Convention, served in the Florida House of Representatives, and was a school administrator.He was nominated to West Point by Representative Josiah Walls, who was also African American.
Florida's Constitution of 1885, its fifth, was drawn up by the Constitutional Convention of 1885. The convention was held from June 9, 1885 until August 3, 1885 in Tallahassee, Florida "for the purpose of reforming the "Carpetbag" Constitution of 1868", according to course literature from the University of Virginia. It was Florida's fifth constitutional convention and restored the election of many public officials, reduced the salaries of the governor and other state officers, made the governor ineligible for reelection, abolished the office of lieutenant governor, and provided for a legislature of fixed numbers.
The Florida House of Representatives is the lower house of the Florida Legislature, the state legislature of the U.S. state of Florida, the Florida Senate being the upper house. Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution of Florida, adopted in 1968, defines the role of the Legislature and how it is to be constituted. The House is composed of 120 members, each elected from a single-member district with a population of approximately 157,000 residents. Legislative districts are drawn on the basis of population figures, provided by the federal decennial census. Representatives' terms begin immediately, upon their election. As of 2019, Republicans hold the majority in the State House with 73 seats; Democrats are in the minority with 47 seats.
In the legislature, Gibbs and his father helped pass legislation establishing a white normal school in Gainesville, Florida and a "colored school" in Jacksonville. State Normal College for Colored Students was a predecessor of Florida A&M College and was relocated to Tallahassee where it opened in 1887 with 15 students. Gibbs served as its assistant principal and Vice President until his death in 1898.The only son of Jonathan Clarkson Gibbs, Thomas married Alice Menard, the daughter of politician John Willis Menard who in 1868 was the first African American elected to Congress.
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) is a public, historically black university in Tallahassee, Florida. Founded in 1887, it is located on the highest geographic hill in Tallahassee. It is the 5th largest historically black university in the United States by enrollment and the only public historically black university in Florida. It is a member institution of the State University System of Florida, as well as one of the state's land grant universities, and is accredited to award baccalaureate, master's and doctoral degrees by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Jonathan Clarkson Gibbs, II was a Presbyterian minister and a prominent African-American officeholder during Reconstruction. He served as the first, and as of 2018 the only, black Secretary of State and Superintendent of Public Instruction of Florida, and along with Josiah Thomas Walls, US Congressman from Florida, was among the most powerful black officeholders in the state during Reconstruction.
John Willis Menard was a federal government employee, poet, newspaper publisher and politician born in Illinois to parents who were Louisiana Creoles from New Orleans. After moving to New Orleans, on November 3, 1868, Menard was the first black man ever elected to the United States House of Representatives. His opponent contested his election, and opposition to his election prevented him from being seated in Congress.
A normal school is an institution created to train high school graduates to be teachers by educating them in the norms of pedagogy and curriculum. Most such schools, where they still exist, are now denominated "teacher-training colleges" or "teachers' colleges" and may be organized as part of a comprehensive university. Normal schools in the United States and Canada trained teachers for primary schools, while in continental Europe, the equivalent colleges educated teachers for primary, secondary and tertiary schools.
Mary Jane McLeod Bethune was an American educator, stateswoman, philanthropist, humanitarian, and civil rights activist best known for starting a private school for African-American students in Daytona Beach, Florida and co-founding UNCF on April 25, 1944 with William Trent and Frederick D. Patterson. She attracted donations of time and money and developed the academic school as a college. It later continued to develop as Bethune-Cookman University. She also was appointed as a national adviser to the president Franklin D. Roosevelt as part of what was known as his Black Cabinet. She was known as "The First Lady of The Struggle" because of her commitment to gain better lives for African Americans.
Josiah Thomas Walls was a United States congressman who served three terms in the U.S. Congress between 1871 and 1876. He was one of the first African Americans in the United States Congress elected during the Reconstruction Era, and the first black person to be elected to Congress from Florida. He also served four terms in the Florida Senate.
Otelia Cromwell was a distinguished scholar and Professor of English Language and Literature at Miner Teachers College. She was the first African American to graduate from Smith College, receiving a B.A. in Classics. She later earned her M.A. at Columbia University in 1910 and a Ph.D. in English at Yale in 1926, becoming the first African American woman to earn a doctorate degree there.
The history of Tallahassee, like the history of Leon County, begins with the Native American population and its interaction with British and Spanish colonists as well as colonial Americans and fugitive slaves, as the Florida Territory moved toward statehood. Growing numbers of cotton plantations increased the settlement's population greatly. It became a city and capital in 1821.
William J. Simmons was an ex-slave who became Simmons College of Kentucky's second president (1880–1890) and for whom the school eventually was named. Simmons greatly developed Howard University's teacher training programs when he took over the school. In addition, he was a writer, journalist, and educator. In 1886 he became president of the American National Baptist Convention, one of the organizations that would merge to form the National Baptist Convention, USA. He was elected president of the Colored Press Association for his work as editor of the American Baptist, a newspaper in Louisville, Kentucky.
The Eastman Business College was a business school located in Poughkeepsie, New York, United States.
Lawrence Dunbar Reddick was an African-American historian and professor who wrote the first biography of Martin Luther King Jr., strengthened major archives of African-American history resources at Atlanta University Center and the New York Public Library, and was fired by Alabama's state board of education for his support for student sit-ins at Alabama State College—an event that earned him honor for his courage and brought Alabama State College censure by the American Association of University Professors.
Thomas DeSaille Tucker or Thomas DeSaliere Tucker was an African-born lawyer, educator, and missionary. He was the first president of the State Normal College for Colored Students, which eventually became Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.
Booker T. Washington Junior College, the first and longest-lasting junior college for African Americans in Florida, was established by the Escambia County school board in 1949. Previously, the only higher education available in Florida to African Americans was at Bethune-Cookman College, Edward Waters College, and Florida A&M University, all historically black.
Henry Wilkins Chandler was an American lawyer, newspaperman, politician, and federal official. Born a freeman, he was the first African American graduate from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.
Carver Junior College, in Cocoa, Florida, was established by the Brevard County Board of Public Instruction in 1960 to serve black students, at the same time that it founded Brevard Junior College, now Eastern Florida State College, for white students. It was named for the black agricultural researcher George Washington Carver. Like 10 of Florida's other 11 black junior colleges, it was founded as a result of a 1957 decision by the Florida Legislature to preserve racial segregation in education, mandated under the 1885 Constitution that was in effect until 1968. More specifically, the Legislature wanted to show, in response to the unanimous Supreme Court decision mandating school integration, that the older standard of "separate but equal" educational facilities was still viable in Florida. Prior to this legislative initiative, the only publicly funded colleges for negro or colored students were Florida A&M University, in Tallahassee, and Booker T. Washington Junior College, in Pensacola.
In 1905, the state of Florida passed the Buckman Act, which reorganized the State University System of Florida and empowered the Florida Board of Control to govern the system. The act, named for legislator Henry Holland Buckman, mandated the consolidation of the state's six institutions of higher education into three: one for white men, one for white women, and one for blacks, e.g., African Americans. Four of the institutions – the University of Florida at Lake City in Lake City, the East Florida Seminary in Gainesville, the St. Petersburg Normal and Industrial School in St. Petersburg, and the South Florida Military College in Bartow – were merged into the new University of the State of Florida.
Ware High School was a school for African American students in Augusta, Georgia. It opened in 1880 and was the first high school for African Americans in Georgia. It was founded by Richard A. Wright. The school was closed by the school district in 1897 despite a legal challenge. The school's alumni include Silas X. Floyd and Nathan W. Collier, the first president of Florida Normal and Technical Institute from 1896 until 1941.
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