Founded in 1870, Benedict College is a historically black institution with a long history. It was originally began as a teachers’ college. The American Baptist Home Mission Society founded the school with $13,000 donated from a Rhode Island woman. It was created so recently-emancipated African Americans could attend college. Rhode Island native Mrs. Bathsheba Benedict and the Baptist Home Mission’s goal was to educate African Americans and produce citizen “powers for good in society”
The school’s first “campus” was a former slave master’s mansion, and students learned grammar, Bible and theology. Later, the school’s mission evolved into training teachers and preachers, and courses were added to accomplish that task. In 1930 the Reverend John J. Starks, an alum, became the school’s first African American president. Every president since Starks has been African American.