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*On this date in 1846 the American Missionary Association (AMA) was founded. The AMA was the first such organization to teach, trained, and educated southern slaves in a creditable and organized manner.
The AMA was both a missionary and abolitionist society focusing more on education to freed slaves after the start of the American Civil War. They opened their first school on the grounds of the Chesapeake Female College across the Hampton River in Virginia on September 17, 1861. In just a few years, the AMA opened schools in North Carolina, Morehead, Roanoke Island, and Beaufort. Samuel Cornish was instrumental in its beginning.
By 1868, the AMA had over five hundred teachers and missionaries throughout the south and near the border states. Their teachers often lived and worked with Black families, yet failed to recognize and encourage the richness of Black culture.
The AMA’s most positive contribution that has stood the test of time has been the many Black colleges and Universities it helped establish. The list includes Fisk University, Berea College, Atlanta University, Talladega College, LeMoyne Institute, and Straight University (now Dillard University).
Christian reconstruction: the American Missionary Association and Southern Blacks, 1861-1890
By: Joe Martin Richardson
University of Georgia Press, ©1986.