The First African American Student Admitted to Cornell






In the years immediately following the Civil War and the end of slavery, African Americans were more able to obtain education and there were many colleges across the nation that would allow them admittance. Cornell was one of them. In the fall of 1870, the college newspaper, "The Collegian" reported that, “The first colored man, ever admitted to our College, is attending Cornell this year… His name is Johnson. He was a slave six years ago.” Samuel H. Johnson was also accepted into one of the literary societies on campus. That January Johnson spoke at an Emancipation Jubilee held in the nearby town of Cedar Rapids. His speech was met with both praise and censure by the local newspaper. The following year, Samuel Johnson did not return to Cornell for reasons unknown.

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