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Sat Dec 26, 2020, 05:59 AM

Vermont Sculpture Honors Martin Henry Freeman, 1st Black President of Amer. College, Avery In Pgh

'Sculpture honors 1st Black president of an American college.' AP News, Dec. 25, 2020. - Excerpts:

RUTLAND, Vt. (AP) ó The first Black president of an American college is being honored with a sculpture installed in the Vermont city where he was born in 1826. The larger-than-life marble bust of Martin Henry Freeman, a scholar, sits on a stack of books in a downtown square as part of the Rutland Sculpture Trail. ďItís a very soft, gentle portrayal of Martin Freeman,Ē said Al Wakefield, one of the sponsors of the piece that was installed in November. ďI donít know how many people remember either through historical writings what kind of person he was, but heís depicted as a very gentle, kind, literary, artsy kind of a guy.Ē



- Martin Henry Freeman, c. 1880s.


.. In 1856, Freeman became president of the all-Black Allegheny Institute and Mission Church in the Pittsburgh area, later named Avery College. He attended Middlebury College in Vermont, graduating at the top of his class in 1849. Freemanís father fought in the American Revolution, one way for enslaved men to win their freedom. The sculptures of Freeman and the Black Civil War soldiers were recently added to the Vermont African American Heritage Trail, a guide to various spots around the state that highlights the lives of African Americans in Vermont.

Freemanís academic success took hold at Middlebury College, where he was the only Black student in a state that was the first to abolish adult slavery in 1777. Abolitionists in town had urged Middlebury to enroll Black students as a demonstration that the school really stood against slavery, said William Hart, an emeritus professor of history of Black studies at Middlebury College. Freeman went on to teach mathematics and natural philosophy at Allegheny Institute and Mission Church in the Pittsburgh area, where be became president in 1856.

He supported the colonization of Liberia for Black Americans and abruptly resigned in 1863 with a plan to teach at Liberia College. He went to Liberia, as he often said, to be a man, which he felt he could not be in the United States, Hart said. It was an act of self-determination, he said. But unlike Freeman, many of the Black Americans who went to Liberia were biracial, the sons and daughters of former enslavers, Hart said. Being dark-skinned, Freeman felt discrimination there, too.

He taught at Liberia College and subsequently also became its president. He died in Monrovia in 1889...

Read More, https://apnews.com/article/us-news-race-and-ethnicity-rutland-vermont-dc40895a0d696adf64ba6f35ac90425b



- A sculpture of Henry Martin Freeman, the first Black American College president is on display in his home city of Rutland, Vt. Freeman graduated from Middlebury College in 1849, and became president of Allegheny Institute in 1856, which later became Avery College, in Pittsburgh, Pa. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke)

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