James B. Dudley

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James Benson Dudley
James B Dudley.PNG
James Benson Dudley

(1859-11-02)November 2, 1859
Wilmington, New Hanover County, North Carolina
DiedApril 4, 1925(1925-04-04) (aged 65)
Greensboro, Guilford County, North Carolina
Known forPresident of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University 1896-1925[1][2][3] [4]
Spouse(s)Susan Wright Samson (1882-death)
Children2 daughters
Parent(s)John Bishop and Annie Hatch Dudley[1]

James Benson Dudley (November 2, 1859 – April 4, 1925) was President of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University from 1896 until his death in 1925.[1][2] James B. Dudley High School in the town of Greensboro, North Carolina, where the Agricultural and Technical University is located, was named after Dudley because of his work for his community.[1]

Early life[change | change source]

Dudley was born on November 2, 1859. Dudley was an infant slave, born into slavery; his parents were owned by Edward B. Dudley the Governor of North Carolina from 1836 to 1841. The governor had a great impact on Dudley. One of the governor's thoughts was that all people need to be educated. Dudley kept these ideas in mind, and they affected everything he did for the rest of his life.[1][2][5]

Education[change | change source]

Most of the schools in the area were closed after the American Civil War because there was not enough money. Dudley was not able to go to school until 1867 (age 8) when a private school opened. Dudley was one of the first students to enroll. Dudley later went to public schools when they opened in his area, and learned Latin. After going to public school, Dudley attended the Institute for Colored Youth in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For college Dudley attended Shaw College in Raleigh, North Carolina. During his education he focused on learning to become an teacher. In 1880, at age 21, Dudley took the North Carolina state test needed to become a teacher, and passed. Later he attended Harvard summer school and gained an Master of Arts from Livingstone College and a doctorate degree from Wilberforce University.[1][5]

Employment[change | change source]

Peabody Graded School[change | change source]

Dudley worked as a teacher. He first taught in a first-grade classroom in Sampson County.[2] The following year he became principal of Peabody Graded School in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1881. The school at this time was one of a few "very good public schools for African Americans" in the area.[6] He spent the next 15 years teaching in Wilmington. He was also President of the State Teachers' Association For Negroes for six years.[1]

Other Roles[change | change source]

He also worked editing and publishing the Wilmington Chronicle. He worked with the Chronicle for fifteen years.[1] He was also register of deeds in Wilmington for a period of time, and organized the Perpetual Building and Loan Association.[2]

For twenty years he was the foreign correspondent for the Grand Lodge of Masons. He also represented the Republican Party at several conventions. In 1896 he attended the Republican National Convention in St. Louis, Missouri. As an influential person in the Republican Party, as well as having connections with the Farmer's Alliance, he helped to pass a bill in 1891 that led to the establishment of The Agricultural and Mechanical College for the Colored Race, which was later renamed North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. In 1912 Dudley, along with the help of the director of the Agricultural Division of the college, Professor J.H. Bluford, organized the Farmers' Union and Co-operative Society. This group helped local unions in each county of the state. The aim of the society, which was said to have raised the living standards of African American farms in the area, was "to discourage the credit and mortgage system among Negro farmers in North Carolina; to assist them in the buying and selling of products; to control methods of production and distribution of farm products; and to secure uniform prices."[1]

The Agricultural and Mechanical College for the Colored Race[change | change source]

In 1895 the North Carolina Legislature appointed Dudley to the Board of Trustees for the College. Later that year he was made secretary of the Board, he was secretary until 1896 when the President John O. Crosby resigned. The next meeting of the Board of Trustees Dudley was voted by all of the members to become the 2nd President of the College.[1][2][4] While he served as President, Dudley focused on making the information taught more relevant. He believed that it was best to aim what was taught towards jobs that were currently available. He wanted to give the men and women who attended his college to be able to get jobs and "raise the standard of living among their people." he expanded the curriculum to include carpentry, wood turning, bricklaying, blacksmithing, animal husbandry, horticulture and floriculture, mattress and broom making, shoe making, poultry raising, tailoring, electrical engineering, and domestic science. Along with adding these specific classes Dudley also added an entire teaching department to the school, that taught pupils to be a teacher while placing special emphasis on "courtesy, manners, and an appreciation to culture in general." Dudley himself was praised for his politeness. He also added a summer school program to the college.[1][5]

Agricultural and Technical College[change | change source]

In 1915-1916 the school changed its name to "Agricultural and Technical College". The change was because the college did not have enough money. Dudley decided that the best way to fix all of the problems faced by the college was to change everything. The college did not have enough money because there were not enough students to support it. The problem was because many people wanted "a professional or classical education. Especially, many parents wished their sons to become preachers, lawyers, teachers, or physicians." Trying to solve this problem Dudley started offering "a course study suited to the ability and needs of students." Another one of the problems was that many opposed the fact that both men and women were taught together student body. As a result when the school reopened it was an all male school.[1]

Death[change | change source]

Dudley's career ended while he was principal at the college. In early April 1925, Dudley left the college due to sudden severe headaches to go home and rest. For several days Dudley was able to attend to his duties from his home, until he died on April 4, 1925, at the age of 65.[1] Dudley was buried in the Pine Forest cemetery on the northern end of 16th street in Wilmington, his home town.[3]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 Arnett, Ethel Stephens (1973). For Whom Our Public Schools Were Named, Greensboro, North Carolina. Piedmont Press. pp. 181–191.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 "Marker: D-95". North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program. Retrieved 24 March 2011.[permanent dead link]
  3. 3.0 3.1 Steelman, Ben (15 March 2011). "MyReporter finds information on historic Wilmington cemeteries". Star News. Retrieved 25 March 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Washington, Booker T. (1977). The Booker T. Washington Papers: 1903-4. USA: The Board of Trustees of the University of llinois. p. 232. ISBN 0-252-00666-6. Retrieved 25 March 2011.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Caldwell, Arthur Bunyan (1921). HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN NEGRO (North Carolina ed.). A.B. Caldwell Publishing Co. p. 121. Retrieved 26 March 2011.
  6. Wilson, Dreck Spurlock (2004), African American Architects: A Biographical Dictionary 1865-1945, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-4159-2959-2