Before the Quad There Was Cheyney University

With BET’s recent release of The Quad, a show that follows the life of a historically Black college and university (HBCU) president and its students, HBCU’s are back in the spotlight.  Set on the actual campus of Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, the Quad sheds light on a the daily lived experiences of only what a few are able to witness.

Though actual HBCU’s like Spelman, Morehouse, Howard, Hampton and FAMU often make headlines for the success of their graduates, we wanted to highlight the nation’s oldest HBCU and see just what it’s up to today.

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania was founded in 1837 and currently stands as the oldest HBCU in the U.S. It was originally known as the African Institute and its founding was made possible by Richard Humphreys, a Quaker philanthropist born in the West Indies. With $10,000, the school sought to educate African Americans who were shielded from the job market due to a lack of formal education and influx of immigrants. In 1829, after race riots occurred in Philadelphia, Humphreys wrote in his will and charged for the creation and designation of this institution. Though it was not a degree-granting school, it did train African Americans in mechanic arts, trades and agriculture. Wonder they’re up to now? Check them out here.