Richard T. Greener-1st AA Graduate of Harvard Univ. & Dean of Howard Univ. School of Law
Richard Theodore Greener was the 1st African-American graduate of Harvard College and Dean of the Howard University School of Law. Greener quit school in his mid-teens to earn money for his family, but one of his employers, Franklin B. Sanborn, helped him to enroll in preparatory school at Oberlin College. He studied at Phillips Academy and graduated in 1865. After three years at Oberlin, Greener transferred to Harvard College and earned a bachelor's degree in 1870. His admission to Harvard was "an experiment" by the administration and paved the way for many more black graduates of Harvard. After teaching for two years at the Institute for Colored Youth in Philadelphia and then serving as principal at the Preparatory School for Colored Children in Washington, D.C., Greener accepted the professorship of mental and moral philosophy at the University of South Carolina in October 1873, where he was the university's 1st African-American faculty member and where he also served as a librarian there helping to "reorganize and catalog the library's holdings which were in disarray after the Civil War". When the university was closed in June 1877 by Wade Hampton III and the newly elected Democratic regime, Greener moved to Washington, D.C., where he took a position as a clerk in the United States Treasury Department and as a professor in the Howard Law School. He served as dean of the Howard University School of Law from 1878 to 1880 and opened a law practice. In 2009, some of his personal papers were discovered in the attic of an abandoned home on the south side of Chicago by a member of a demolition crew.