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Tue, 01.09.1883

The Norfolk Mission College Begins Classes

NMC Class Picture

*The first class taught at the Norfolk Mission College (NMC) was on this date in 1883. This was a privately funded public school for African American students in the Norfolk, Virginia area.

The school was established by the United Presbyterians. NMC taught thousands of students at various levels of education and provided for students who could not afford the fifty-cent tuition. About The Norfolk Mission College (NMC) was located on Princess Anne Road in Norfolk, Virginia, and included two buildings for classes, a school dormitory, a church, and a home for the school's principal. The United Presbyterians founded the school in 1882 when Reverend Matthew Clark discovered a need for Black schools in Norfolk.

The school started out teaching 467 students in the first year. After that, the school taught significantly more students, with there being 1,050 students enrolled in 1884. The first principal was Reverend Clarke who worked for the Freedmen's Mission of the United Presbyterians board. The first class of NMC graduated in May of 1888. The curriculum taught at the school included the usual subjects, such as math, science, and history, and also included Latin and classes on the Bible. The school taught primary level classes, intermediate grades, and high school level, classes.

The school lasted until 1916 and was then sold to the Norfolk school board and turned into Booker T. Washington High School. After the new Booker T. Washington High School opened in 1924, the building became Paul Laurence Dunbar Elementary School. In 1955, that building was demolished and now the Blyden Branch of the Norfolk Public Library is located on the same spot. The school was purchased by the school board in Norfolk and the John T. West High School was moved there. Before the building was demolished, graduates of NMC used to hold an annual reunion at the former college.

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