IN HONOR OF BLACK HISTORY MONTH 2015 The Chicago Theological Seminary


Established in 1855, has a long history with the African American community. Its early students and teachers were active in the abolition movement and the Underground Railroad, and black students had been attending the Seminary since the 1880s. It was the first seminary to introduce field work into the curriculum under the direction of Graham Taylor in the early twentieth century, working at the Chicago Commons. Its students supported the Pullman porter’s strike. The Seminary was also the first seminary to award the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree for his work with the Civil Rights Movement in 1957. The Seminary’s president C. Shelby Rooks became the first African American to be president of a predominantly white school in 1974. HistoryMaker Kenneth Smith, founder of the South Side’s Trinity United Church of Christ and member of the Board of Education of the City of Chicago in 1980, was the next president of the Seminary from 1984 to 1998. Under Rooks’ and Smith’s tenures as president, the African American student population grew to about a third of the student body. Among its notable alumni are HistoryMakers Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Jr. and Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr.