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Wed, 04.03.1872

Elizabeth Wright, HBCU Educator born

Evelyn Wright

*On this date in 1872, Elizabeth Evelyn Wright. She was a Black educator and administrator.  Elizabeth Evelyn Wright was born in rural Talbotton, Georgia.

Her father, John Wesley Wright, was an African American carpenter. Her mother, Virginia Rolfe, was a Native American Cherokee woman. Wright went to a school held in a church basement.  In 1888, she attended Tuskegee Institute as a night student. After two years, Wright moved to Hampton County, South Carolina to assist in a rural school for Black children. After the school was burned, she returned to Tuskegee and graduated.  

Inspired by her experience at Tuskegee and knowing the importance of education, Wright started several schools in South Carolina, but they failed due to arson, jealousy, or other reasons.  Wright started a night school for Black men in Hampton County.  In 1897, she moved to Denmark in rural Bamberg County and founded Denmark Industrial Institute in Denmark, South Carolina, as a school for Black youths. It is present-day Voorhees College, a Historically Black College (HBCU).  

In 1902 Voorhees Industrial School opened for male and female students at the elementary and high school levels, and Wright was principal. Voorhees provided additional gifts during the next few years, and the General Assembly incorporated the school in his name.  In 1906 Wright married Martin A. Menafee, treasurer of Voorhees College.

Shortly after her marriage, she became ill. She went to the well-known Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan for medical treatment but died there on December 14, 1906.  Wright was buried on the Voorhees College campus.  Wright is honored with Anna Julia Haywood Cooper with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA) on February 28.  

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