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Register now for ‘An Evening in Conversation with Episcopal HBCU Leaders’

September 9, 2021
Office of Public Affairs

A virtual panel discussion highlighting the importance and history of two Episcopal historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) will include Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., in conversation with the presidents of Saint Augustine’s University and Voorhees College.

Hosted by The Episcopal Church Office of Development, the webinar-style event on Zoom—from 5 to 6 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Sept. 29—will include a discussion followed by Q&A. Rebecca Linder Blachly, director of government relations for The Episcopal Church, will moderate the conversation with Curry, Clyburn, Saint Augustine’s President Christine Johnson McPhail and Voorhees President Ronnie Hopkins.

The panelists will discuss and invite questions about challenges facing HBCUs and their role in supporting the development of leaders of color across a wide array of professions. Other topics may include how to preserve and protect the legacy and history of Black colleges; how HBCU students are impacting the world; and how funding for HBCUs compares with funding for predominantly white institutions.

“These colleges are important drivers of quality higher education for students from diverse backgrounds, and it is vital that we support their thriving,” Curry said. “This event brings together the leaders of these two institutions, as well as Rep. Clyburn, who has been an exceptional advocate for HBCU education.”

The nation’s 106 HBCUs have been educating minority students and providing them with economic opportunities for more than 100 years, noted Michael Lomax, president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund, in a recent article. “Not only have they consistently produced leaders in their communities and across the nation, but HBCUs today are consistently and affordably producing the leaders of the future.” 

The Episcopal Church originally founded 10 HBCUs to provide education to previously enslaved people after the Civil War. Of those, Saint Augustine’s in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Voorhees, in Denmark, South Carolina, remain.

In the midst of COVID-19 shutdowns, on the Sunday before the 2020 presidential election, Curry, a North Carolina resident, preached an online All Saints’ Day sermon from Saint Augustine’s, noting that former enslaved people built the chapel from stones quarried locally.

“This school has educated generations of teachers and scholars … at one time, most of the public health nurses in the Carolinas and Southern Virginia were educated here at St. Agnes Hospital and school,” he said. “This school once produced most of the Black clergy in The Episcopal Church. … It has made a difference – it has carved out hope, chiseling it from stones of despair.”

Earlier last year, also limited by pandemic restrictions, Curry delivered a virtual message during Voorhees College’s 123rd Founder’s Day celebration honoring its founder, Elizabeth Evelyn Wright.

“Voorhees College and other colleges and universities like it in the HBCU community have educated countless thousands of people who have helped to uplift the most vulnerable in our society and contribute toward God’s dream for Beloved Community,” he said. “That must continue. That work must go on.”

Event registration

Registration is free for “An Evening in Conversation with Episcopal HBCU Leaders”; donations are gratefully received on behalf of the Absalom Jones Fund for Episcopal HBCUs, which equally supports Saint Augustine’s University and Voorhees College.

Register at https://bit.ly/EpiscopalHBCU.

For questions, please contact Cecilia Malm, associate director/senior development officer, Episcopal Church Office of Development, cmalm@episcopalchurch.org, 212-716-6062. 

About Episcopal HBCUs

Saint Augustine’s University was founded in 1867 by the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. Its mission is to sustain a learning community in which students can prepare academically, socially, and spiritually for leadership in a complex, diverse, and rapidly changing world. More than 1,000 students pursue bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees, while adult learners engage in advanced studies in criminal justice, organizational management, and religious studies.

Voorhees College is a private historically black four-year liberal arts college founded as the Denmark Industrial School of Elizabeth Evelyn Wright, a young Black woman, in 1897. Voorhees students combine intellect and faith as they prepare for professional careers. They learn to thrive in a diverse global society while pursuing lifelong learning, healthy living, and an abiding faith in God. They aim to improve their communities, society, and themselves.

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