Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) is one of the oldest African American Universities in North Carolina. In 1867, the Rev. S.C. Alexander and the Rev. W. L. Miller saw the need to establish an institution for freedmen. The Freedmen’s College of North Carolina was chartered as a result, originally for men only. The institution was first named Biddle University for its financial support from Mrs. Mary D. Biddle. Mrs. Jane Berry Smith of Pittsburgh. The school later adopted the name of “Smith” for the financial support from Mrs. Jane Berry Smith who donated a total of $702,500 for the erection of 9 buildings. In 1932, JCSU became the first HBCU in North Carolina to receive regional accreditation by the southern Association of Colleges and Schools. That same year, women students were accepted for the first time. Today, the school has over 27 majors and approximately $1,300 students. It is well-known history that JCSU (still known as Biddle University at the time) played Livingstone College in the first intercollegiate football game between two HBCU. The game continues today as the “Commemorative Classic.”
Notable Alumni Include: the only African American to become president of the American Chemical Society, Dr. Henry Hill; Tennessee State Senator Avon Williams; and jazz clarinetist Skeets Tolbert.