Black On Campus
Higher Education and the African American Experience

Flashback Friday (Way, Way Back): George May Powell on the Promise of “A Rising Race”

August 28th, 2009 by Ajuan Mance


A print illustrating the burning of New York City’s “Colored Orphan Asylum” in the riots of 1863. The orphanage would rebuild in a different site four years later prior. Eventually the orphanage would find a permanent home in Harlem.


Intelligent and honest observation of our Afro-American friends cannot fail to convince not only that they are rising race, but that they are phenomenally so. The writer began to see this a quarter century ago, when present at the commencement exercises of the Colored Orphan Asylum at Cooper Union, New York City. He expected them to excel in music, and possibly in recitation, which they did; but was not prepared for the pleasant surprise of these sable little folk decidedly distancing any other schools of white children of his acquaintance, of the same age, in geography, grammar, arithmetic, physiology, &c. He also found, subsequently, in visiting and addressing these schools and those of white children, and then revisiting and reviewing them, that the dark-skinned children, for some reason, remembered the points in the previous addresses much the best.

— George May Powell, “A Rising Race,” The Christian Recorder, August 2, 1894

Posted by Ajuan Mance

Posted in African American Students, African Americans, Black History, Black Students, race

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