The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff was established on this day in 1875. The original name of the school, Branch Normal College, has been changed twice since opening, and was originally planned to train Black teachers to work in segregated Black schools in the state.
Branch Normal College opened in a one-story shack with just seven students as part of the then-Arkansas Industrial University campus. The early days were a struggle, as some of the students, although somewhat educated, suffered slightly as their parents were just a decade freed from slavery.
In 1890, amendments made to the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act made it law that colleges and universities built separate institutions for Black students which led to the expansion of Branch Normal into other fields such as agriculture and other disciplines.
Arkansas Industrial University later became the University of Arkansas.
In 1927, Branch Normal split from the UAB and became Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical, and Normal University. In 1972, AM&N University rejoined the UAB system and was re-named to its current name.
Notable students of the school include Dr. Samuel L. Kountz, who performed the first successful kidney transplant between two people who were not twins. Other students include Grammy Award-winning Gospel star Smokie Norful, and prominent government official, civil rights activist and social worker, Martha S. Lewis.
PHOTO: University of Arkansas Pine Bluff
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