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Tougaloo College – This HBCU has a civil rights legacy

Tougaloo NineEvery Thursday, we honor the history of institutions designated as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) through the #TBT hashtag.  For those who don’t know, the #TBT hash tag means “Throw Back Thursday” and on Thursdays, social media lights up with people sharing images of the past.

Today our #TBT celebration is all about Tougaloo College  which was established in 1869, in Mississippi and is affectionately known as – “The Loo”.  Their tag line, quite appropriately, is “Where History Meets the Future”.

HBCUs, including Tougaloo College, have played a significant role in building America’s diverse workforce.  Look at their list of notable alumni and you will see judges, lawyers, artists, sociologists, musicians, healthcare professionals, politicians and civil rights activists. However, these schools were not just about in-the-classroom efforts to educate professionals, they were also about the advocacy needed to change the world into which these students would graduate and build careers.  The photo here is of college students known as the “Tougaloo Nine” as they attempted to integrate the Jackson Municipal Library (Photo – The Clarion Ledger).

Some alumni, like Annie Devine, quit her job in insurance sales to join the civil rights movement.  Devine along with Fannie Lou Hamer and Victoria Gray Adams, became the first black women to speak before the United States House of Representatives.  When Devine was threatened with eviction from her home for attending a meeting, she said “I think I made a decision right there. If I was going to be harassed, be made to move just because I went to a meeting, then I was already in the movement” (Houck and Dixon, 2009, p. 289).

Fannie Lou Hamer gets Honorary degreeTougaloo College recognized the work of Fannie Lou Hamer by awarding her with the doctor of humanities honorary degree in 1969. (Photograph courtesy The Tougaloo College Civil Rights Collection at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History)


Houck, D. W., & Dixon, D. E. (2009). Women and the civil rights movement, 1954-1965. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.

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