Friday, December 5, 2014
Fanny Jackson Coppin-1st African American Superintendent in U.S.
Fanny Jackson Coppin was an African-American educator and missionary. Born an American slave, Fanny Jackson's freedom was purchased by her aunt at age 12. Fanny Jackson spent the rest of her youth working as a servant for author George Henry Calvert, studying at every opportunity. In 1860, she enrolled in Oberlin College in Ohio, the 1st college in the United States to accept both black and female students. During her years as a student at Oberlin College, she taught an evening course for free African Americans in reading and writing, and she graduated with a Bachelor's degree in 1865. Fanny Jackson accepted a position at Philadelphia's Institute for Colored Youth (now Cheyney University of Pennsylvania). She served as the principal of the Ladies Department and taught Greek, Latin, and Mathematics. In 1869, Fanny Jackson was appointed as the principal of the Institute after the departure of Ebenezer Bassett, becoming the 1st African American woman to become a school principal. In her 37 years at the Institute, Fanny Jackson was responsible for vast educational improvements in Philadelphia. During her years as principal, she was promoted by the board of education to superintendent. She was the 1st African American superintendent of a school district in the United States, but soon went back to the being a school principal. Fanny married Reverend Levi Jenkins Coppin, a minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church pastor of Bethel AME Church Baltimore. In 1902 the couple went to South Africa and performed a variety of missionary work, including the founding of the Bethel Institute, a missionary school with self-help programs. In 1926, a Baltimore teacher training school was named the Fanny Jackson Coppin Normal School (now Coppin State University).