On this day in 1930, Dillard University in New Orleans was officially chartered. This came after two existing institutions in the region saw the benefit in combining to better serve students.
New Orleans University, an all-male school, and Straight College, an all-female school, were institutions that thrived but both local white and Black activists saw a greater need for an institution that could best serve the needs of students on both sides.
The charter was signed and the school was named after James H. Dillard, a white educator in New Orleans who was notable for advancing the needs of Black students in the city. Dillard’s transition to becoming one of the leading historically Black colleges and universities was not easy as white residents were still resistant to the idea of a Black president potentially leading a white faculty. And the influx of young Black people in the area who sought to attend the school unnerved them.
Today, Dillard has a student body of 1,250, and is led by Dr. Walter Kimbrough of Atlanta, the school’s president since 2012. Notable Dillard alumni include “SNL” actor Garrett Morris, the first Black governor of the United States, P.B.S. Pinchback, and women’s right activist Alice Dunbar Nelson, among others.
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