Mayor Pugh Proclaims October 15, 2018 as "Fanny Jackson Coppin Day" in Baltimore

BALTIMORE, MD.  —  In recognition of the indelible contributions of Fanny Jackson Coppin to advancing education for African Americans, and the legacy of Coppin State University as an anchor institution of higher learning in the City of Baltimore during its 118-year history, Mayor Catherine E. Pugh will proclaim Monday, October 15, 2018 as “Fanny Jackson Coppin Day” in Baltimore. 

“There is no clearer or more promising pathway for personal and career advancement than higher education, and in its 118-year history, Coppin State University has been providing just that to generations of Baltimore residents and others from across our state and nation,” said Mayor Catherine E. Pugh.  “Fanny Jackson Coppin set the standard for what can be accomplished through education and made it her life’s mission to lift others through education. As such, she is an enduring role model for the multi-generational student population of Coppin State University and for all who strive to achieve their full potential and make a meaningful impact on their community.”

A former slave who was set free in Washington, D.C. because an aunt managed to save enough from her $6 per month earnings to buy her niece’s freedom at the age of 12, Fanny Jackson eventually went on to Rhode Island Normal School (now known as Rhode Island College), where she eventually completed her first formal course of study. In 1860, she enrolled at Oberlin College, the only college in the nation that accepted both women and African Americans, where she also became the first female student to take “gentlemen’s courses,” establishing the first instance of co-educational learning in higher education. While at Oberlin, Fanny established a special school with evening classes to teach freed slaves.  In 1865, she became only the second African-American woman in the country to earn a bachelor’s degree. Four years later, Fanny became the first African-American woman to be appointed a school principal four years later at the Institute for Colored Youth (ICY) in Philadelphia (the forerunner of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania).  During her 37 years at the Institute, Fanny was responsible for expanding its curriculum significantly, recognizing that African-Americans were being excluded from higher-paying technical and industrial jobs. She set still another precedent when the Philadelphia Board of Education promoted her as the first African American woman in the nation to be named a school superintendent.  She eventually moved to Baltimore in 1881 when she married the Reverend Levi Coppin, pastor of Bethel A.M.E. Church, less than two miles from the present-day Coppin campus.

Baltimore’s former Normal Department of the Colored High and Training School was renamed 1926 to Fanny Jackson Coppin Normal School.  In 1939, the school was again renamed Coppin Teachers College, when it was granted authority to award the four-year Bachelor of Science degree. It was transferred to the Maryland Department of Education in 1950 and eventually renamed “Coppin State University” in 2004. Today’s Coppin State University provides accessible pathways to educational and career advancement in critical fields such as nursing, early-childhood education, computer science, business, social work, criminal justice, health information management, and urban arts


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