Bowie State University: 150th Anniversary Video

Bowie State University is a place where
dreams and aspirations have been nurtured and realized for 150 years. From
its humble beginnings as an elementary school at Calvert in Saratoga Streets in
Baltimore, Maryland, to today’s sprawling campus of modern state-of-the-art
buildings and flowing gardens in Prince George’s County, this institution has
stood as a welcoming beacon for those seeking new educational opportunities. After President Lincoln signed the
Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and the state of Maryland ratified its
Constitution abolishing slavery a year later, a group of forward-looking men
began to advocate the need to educate the 87,000 newly-freed citizens of
Maryland. They soon founded the institution that would eventually become
Bowie State University. “The state did a 1864 emancipation quilt and because
Bowie was founded in 1865, we were able to place Bowie State University on that
Prince George’s square on the quilt.” These 46 men comprised of Quakers,
lawyers, clergymen and businessmen, established the Baltimore Association
for the Moral and Educational Improvement of Colored People. The
group’s mission was to establish schools for Maryland’s black citizens that the
state had failed to provide. Perhaps the most important figure in the Baltimore
Association was businessman Joseph Cushing. “His passion for education
approached veneration: nothing short of veneration.” Cushing led the education committee of the Maryland Constitutional
Convention but was unable to persuade its members to include provisions for
the education of the state’s black citizens. He chastised the committee in
an address to the convention. The Baltimore Association opened dozens of
schools for the newly emancipated slaves around the state. School Number One, its
first school for the black population in Baltimore, was opened on the corner of
Calvert and Saratoga Streets on January 9, 1865. In its first year it drew some 370 pupils and continued to expand. A normal
school to train teachers was added a year later. The school which became known
as the Baltimore Normal School for Colored Teachers was relocated a short distance
to the renovated Friends Meeting House at Courtland and Saratoga Streets.
Acquiring sufficient funding was a constant challenge but in 1871 the Baltimore
Normal School received a significant gift from the estate of Nelson Wells, a
freed black man who had created an endowment in 1843 to educate free black
children. “Imagine a man who was a slave who borrowed money and started a
business.” The trustees of his will allocated the $3,500 fund to the
Baltimore Normal School. “The trustees of Wells’ will offered the money to an
organization which had the same aspirations for educating black people.”
Finally in 1908 after repeated petitions, the State of Maryland accepted its
responsibility to fund a normal school. The State Board of Education
incorporated the school into the state system and renamed it Normal School
Number Three. Partly in response to the increases of cruel treatment toward
blacks, the NAACP was founded in 1909. Through perseverance, strides were
being made toward improving opportunities for blacks. The following
year the state of Maryland purchased the Jericho Farm in Bowie to relocate and
expand Normal School Number Three. In September of 1911 the school
officially moved and reopened in Bowie under the name of Maryland Normal and
Industrial School at Bowie. There were 61 students enrolled. The
first school building was erected on the farm and in the beginning only provided
campus accommodations for female students. There were three departments:
normal, agricultural and industrial. The school was equivalent to high school and
focused on training students as teachers and in the manual arts. Other courses
offered included farming, carpentry and blacksmithing. Although students were
not charged tuition, they were required to give one hour of service to school
each day. Don Speed Smith Goodloe would serve as the first to head to the school in
Bowie. Goodloe worked to ensure that the Normal School could compete academically
with its counterparts and not just teach agriculture. He built a brick house for his private residence off Jericho Park Road, across
the railroad tracks near the school. He lived there with his wife Fanny, who was
the matron of the school and a music teacher.
The Goodloe House is still used by Bowie State today and is listed on the
National Register of Historic Places. Following Goodloe, Dr. Leonidas S. James
was appointed principal. He increased the enrollment and raised entrance
requirements. During his third year Dr. James initiated the then-standard
two-year professional Normal School program entitling graduates to receive
the highest teaching certificate issued by the State Board of Education. As the
academic standards rose the campus began to expand physically as well. In 1921
Harriet Tubman Hall was built. The women’s dormitory housed 48 students.
Harriet Tubman Hall continues to be a residence for female students today and
is the oldest building on campus. In 1922 the school’s first administration
building was destroyed by fire. A new frame structure known as the B.K. Bruce
Building was built to house a permanent gymnasium, kitchen and dining room. It would will also become the first demonstration school on
campus. It was divided into three classrooms to allow students to practice
teaching. Benjamin Banneker Hall opened in November of 1925 to replace the first
administration building that was destroyed by fire. It stood next to
Tubman Hall and contained a boys dormitory, assembly hall for 300 people, a
dining room, two classrooms, two laboratories and a library room. During
this time the school also had a very gifted and stern faculty. “Eva Crocker was
really the head of the Normal School. She taught us and taught us well. Well, I
remember things … many things she had taught us that made for a real teacher.”
Another faculty member was Charlotte B. Robinson, a music teacher for more than
30 years at the school. Around 1929 she composed the song which would become the
school alma mater which continues in use today. “We called her CB behind her back.”
“Charlotte was a very loving person. She enjoyed working with her students. And if
they applied themselves at all she was happy.” “CB was very good – she was strict and she wanted us to do it just right.”
The graduates in this time went out to teach in the colored schools in
communities throughout the state. “I started in Carroll County two years
and I retired … resigned and I was getting ready then to go to Morgan to get my
degree when the supervisor from Baltimore County came up and said we
want you in Baltimore County because you are a Baltimore County girl and you’ve
done exceptionally well here, so we want you in Baltimore County. And they gave me
a one room school again up in Hereford, Maryland. They kept me up there for four years and then they transferred me to Sparks
Elementary and I was there for 25 years.” “My first job was in Calvert County,
Maryland. I taught first through seventh grade at a little school in Calvert County, Maryland and after I taught that school in Calvert County, Maryland, I became 21 so by that time I was old enough to go into the Women’s
Army Corps.” “I taught right here in the county … a little community
right up the road from Rockville: Quince Orchard. And I had grades 1, 2 and 3. Went
on to Hampton, got my bachelor’s degree and then I went to Boston University.
I got another master’s degree and it was all in the field of reading. I became
what they call a master teacher.” “At that time in the black community the
teacher was a special person. I remember my first teaching assignment. It was a
relatively large town but I’d be walking down the street and the town
drunk would stand up and tip his hat and say, ‘Morning, professor’ as I walked by. I ended
up in Talbot County Maryland. There was an elementary school that had
gotten so crowded that they had sent the sixth grade from that elementary school
into the county seat: the big school — Robert Moton
Elementary School in Easton — so I had the third, fourth and fifth grade students in
that church. I didn’t mind it because in the morning … Monday morning
I’d have to come in, push the church pews back and pull the school desk out of the
couch … out of the corner.” By 1935 the four-year program for teachers is
established and in 1938 the school’s name changed to Maryland Teachers
College at Bowie. Dr. William Edward Henry was appointed
president in 1941 and served through the civil rights movement up until 1967. Dr.
Henry is credited with expanding the teacher education program and
transforming the school into a liberal arts college. The Teachers College
continued to attract compassionate and supportive faculty. Dr. J Alexander
Wiseman, a Bowie graduate, was an education professor who made a deep
impression on many of his students. “Dr. Wiseman was just very quiet, very helpful and if
you had a problem or a question you could always go to him and he was
always always there to be … to help you.” “Dr. Wiseman was an interesting guy: very
compassionate, you know. He’s the kind of person that did not generate a lot of
anxiety in you when you sittin’ in the class.” “The thing that really was exciting was
to see that all the instructors and administrators were here to help you.
It was just like coming … leaving a family and coming to a family.” In 1963 the
Maryland State Legislature authorized the institution to become Bowie State
College following the establishment of a liberal arts program. New majors in
English, history and general social science were added, expanding the
academic offerings beyond teacher education. But the teachers who had
graduated from the institution of the past 30 years were continuing to make a
powerful mark on Maryland’s public schools. “And it was then when integration
took place. All of my little folks came up one morning dressed to kill, going
down to the white school. Integration. I was left up on the hill after 25 years
with 12 children and I was there that whole year with 12 children. At the end
of that year they sent me down to Fleming Elementary School and there’s
were I started the first special education center.” “Well they said I was
the only one that met the requirement. I was reading specialist: the only one in
the county. But they treated me very good. I never had any trouble being snubbed
or called names or … no, I was a teacher specialist.” Inequality was a nationwide theme during
the 60’s and the teachers college was no exception.
In 1968 institutional inequalities prompted a student protest in Annapolis
about poor conditions at Bowie which resulted in 228 student arrests. Their
request to meet with Maryland governor Spiro Agnew were refused although he
later met with student government leaders after a week of protests on
campus. In the late 60s and early 70s Bowie State’s curriculum had begun to
develop into a group of robust, respected programs which enabled the institution
to offer its first graduate program” the Master of Education. In 1969 Dr. Joseph
Alexander Wiseman became the founding director of the Graduate Division and
additional degree programs followed. Boise State embraced the technological
boom in the 80s and shifted its institutional focus toward programs in
science, technology, engineering and math. This helped the college to achieve
University status in 1988 becoming what we now know as Bowie State University.
The university simultaneously joined the newly-formed University System of
Maryland. “I was a student who was into student
government and organizations on campus and I wanted to be involved and Bowie
State definitely provided that. I came in as a business major and at that time
computers were starting to … to take over, let’s say … expand into our communities
and to society and so I decided that I was going to take a computer class. I was
in Professor Dove’s class and Professor Dove said, after the first test, ‘You’ve
done an excellent job and you need to consider changing your major.'” The
university thrived throughout the 90’s becoming a national model institution in
STEM. In 1995 it partnered with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center to open the
Bowie Satellite Operations and Control Center. “At that point computer science
was actually part of the mathematics department … when I was here. It was a
few years after that that computer science became a separate department and
then we added the computer technology degree and since that point it’s
definitely blossomed into a full-fledged competitive program that is doing great.”
Bowie State University ushered in the new millennium under Dr. Calvin W. Lowe,
who made several improvements centered substantially around enlarging the
budget for physical improvement of the campus which beautified the aesthetics and
the maintenance of the university’s scenery. In addition during his tenure,
Lowe initiated construction of the Center for Business and Graduate Studies.
In 2006 the university appointed its ninth and current president, Mickey L. Burnham,
who continues the focus on enhancing academic programs,
assuring fiscal integrity and modernizing facilities to provide
state-of-the-art learning environments. 150 years following the emancipation of
slaves and the founding of School Number One as one of the first schools for
black children in Baltimore, Bowie State University today ranks among
the nation’s top comprehensive universities. The University continues to
inspire young people to take on new challenges and prepare to the become the
leaders of tomorrow, especially in the STEM fields. Now more than ever
Bowie State University is committed to delivering on the promise of opportunity
by preparing students for success in a global society. (music)

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  1. I feel you did a wonderful job narrating for your first time. You took your time, your speech was very clear, and your vocal intonation was also well done.

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