April 2015: 19 Historically Black Land-Grant Universities Commemorate 125th Anniversary of 1890 Morrill Act

April 23, 2015

19 Historically Black Land-Grant Universities  Commemorate 125th Anniversary of 1890 Morrill Act

For information about this release, contact:
Ashley Hawn, ashley.hawn@kglobal.com

WASHINGTON, DC–Today, 1890 land-grant universities will celebrate “1890 Day” by hosting a Wellness Walk to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the universities’ establishment as land-grant institutions by The Second Morrill Act. Funds raised from the walks will support the inaugural Justin Morrill Scholarship Fund for students majoring in food, agricultural, and environmental sciences at the 19  land-grant institutions known informally as the “1890s.”

“As we celebrate this historic landmark in education and technical progress, we are also educating the nation about the legacy and achievements of the entire 1890 university community,” said President Juliette B. Bell, chair of the Council of 1890 Land-Grant Universities and president of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. “We invite everyone with a stake in educating the next generation of global leaders to participate in this event and to learn more about the remarkable contributions the 1890 universities continue to make toward American progress and prosperity.”

The Wellness Walks are designed to focus attention on such health conditions as diabetes and hypertension that disproportionately affect the minority communities that 1890 land grants are serving through their education, research and outreach systems. Thousands of students, donors, faculty, and 1890 land-grant university supporters are expected to participate. Participants in the various events will walk for 1.89 miles and help collect donations of at least $18.90 for the Justin Morrill Scholarship Fund. In addition to the 19 land-grant institutions, other partnering supporters of land-grant institutions, including the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, are holding1890 Day Wellness Walks across the country.

“For 125 years, the 1890s land-grant institutions have played a critical role in meeting this country’s need for high-quality, innovative food and agricultural science and education and providing solutions to some of our most pressing societal challenges,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “NIFA is honored to partner with and support these universities as they work to advance research and extension and educate the next generation of scientists, engineers, farmers and foresters.”

These historic, mostly public institutions are spread across 18 states and were established under The Second Morrill Act of 1890, which was introduced by Vermont U.S. Senator Justin Smith Morrill. Under the Second Morrill Act, lawmakers sought to correct discriminatory practices by Southern and border states that denied African Americans admission to the public land-grant universities created under the First Morrill Act of 1862. The 1890s include the following institutions:

The 1890 land-grant universities have graduated thousands of students whose academic contributions to the country range from agronomy to aerospace. Noted alumni of the 1890s include: Oprah Winfrey, media mogul; John W. Thompson, chairman of Microsoft Corp. and CEO of Virtual Instruments; Lionel Richie, Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and music producer; the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. civil rights activist and 1984 presidential candidate; Reginald Lewis, financier and chairman and chief executive officer of TLC Beatrice International Holdings; Althea Gibson, tennis great who won Wimbledon and U.S. Nationals championships; Art Shell, first black NFL football coach; Dr. Samuel Kountz, first doctor to perform a kidney transplant; Dr. Ronald McNair, astronaut and physicist killed in the 1986 Challenger explosion; and Bessie Coleman, the first African American female aviator. To learn more, visit  http://www.1890universities.org or follow the hashtag #Celebrate1890s on social media.


About Agriculture is America

Agriculture is America. In short, the agriculture industry – sustained in large part by the American land-grant university system through both Agricultural Experiment Stations and Cooperative Extension – is integral to jobs, national security, and health. To learn more, visit http://agisamerica.org.

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