While Hampton University primarily functions as a University it has a rich history among African Americans. The ground Hampton sits on now wasn't always a university but it has functioned as a place of learning for just over 150 years. Booker T. Washington is the most notable graduate among many others over the years. From under the Emancipation Oak to the continued excellence of the University, Hampton truly has influence throughout history.
Hampton University has humble beginnings as it first
originated from a camp of recently freed slaves beyond the reach of the
Southern army in the Civil War. Slaves would not be returned to the South if
they escaped; the camp was established to house them. A freed African
American by the name of Mary Peake was asked to teach people and thus the
university began. She began teaching underneath an oak tree known now as the
simple oak or the emancipation tree. A couple of years
later the emancipation proclamation would be read under the same tree for the
first time in the South.
A school was established shortly thereafter and accepted
students from across the country. Booker T. Washington would go on to become
the most famous graduate of the University. Washington is most notable for
founding the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. The future graduate was a hard
worker and under the tutelage of General Armstrong became a teacher at the
school. Armstrong was asked to recommend a white leader for
the Tuskegee school and he sent Washington. Washington, of
course, won over his white counterparts and developed the university into
what it is today and went down as one of the most influential African
Americans of all time.
The Hampton Institute received accreditation in 1930 after
renewing and upgrading various pieces of the college over the years. The
most notable addition was the Robert C. Ogden Auditorium, which the
school's official site considers to be one of the finest acoustical
venues in the nation.
Over the years Hampton was visited by Civil Rights leaders such
as Martin Luther King Jr. and even Rosa Parks took a position at the school as
hostess of the Holly Tree Inn. The name Hampton University was
adopted in 1984 and the school continues to educate about its
rich heritage today.