Straight University was a former HBCU established on June 12, 1868 by the American Missionary Association of the Congregational Church. The school was put in place to address the educational needs of newly freed slaves in and around New Orleans.
The name Straight comes from an Ohio benefactor, Seymour Straight, a cheese manufacturer and Republican philanthropist. The school’s name was changed to Straight College in 1915 and offered a wide range of courses from elementary to college levels.
Straight University had a law department and was one of few such law schools at the time to be racially integrated. The department was severely underfunded however and went defunct before the college changed its coursework focus to teacher training and the liberal arts.
Notable alumni include pioneering teacher and former slave Nellie A. Ramsey Leslie, Harlem Renaissance foremother Alice Dunbar Nelson, and P.B.S. Pinchback, the first Black governor in Louisiana and the first Black governor in the United States.
After underperforming financially, Straight University was absorbed into Dillard University in 1934 along with New Orleans University, an HBCU founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church.
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