William Henry Crogman, a native of the West Indian island of St. Martin, was educated at Pierce Academy in Massachusetts immediately after the Civil War. In 1868 he was named to the English faculty of newly organized Claflin College in South Carolina. By 1870 Crogman returned to college, entering Atlanta University. He graduated first in his class in 1876 and was appointed professor of classics at Clark College, another black institution in the city. Crogman was appointed president of Clark in 1903.
On July 16, 1884, Crogman was invited to address the predominantly white National Educational Association convention in Madison, Wisconsin. He used the opportunity to describe the remarkable post-Civil War educational progress of African Americans which he credited mainly to the faculty of the numerous black colleges which emerged throughout the South after 1865 and the dedication of the students and their parents to educational achievement despite their operating in a daunting environment of poverty and racial violence. Crogman’s speech appears below.
I appreciate most heartily the invitation extended to me to speak before you to night with regard to the educational interests of my people in the South. Nor can I well suppress within me the feeling that this act of courtesy on your part was prompted by a generous consideration for a race long obscured, but now hopefully struggling into light under the benign influences of Christian liberty. Surely, too, it will be a little encouraging to that race to think that, notwithstanding all the discouragements of the past, notwithstanding all the embarrassments, not withstanding all the misgivings and speculations with regard to its intellectual and moral capacity, it has, nevertheless, within twenty short years of freedom, been found worthy of recognition by you, and given to day several representatives among the educators of this great nation. Verily the world has been moving, and we have been moving in it.
But whatever may have been the advancement of the race