TALLADEGA, Ala. – Talladega, the residence of the Super Speedway, the scene for Talladega Nights, and the home of Talladega College represents a large part of educational history. In 1865, William Savery and Thomas Tarrant, both former slaves, met in Mobil for a convention with other previous slaves to discuss and commit to helping build a strong educational foundation for the next generation of African American students. This commitment resulted Savery and Tarrant, with help from General Wager Swayne, to offer education for children of local former slaves.

In the beginnings of the school, classes took place in a one room schoolhouse. Overwhelmed with the high number of students in the first weeks of its establishment, the school was moved to the nearby Baptist Academy and was bought by the American Missionary Association based on the influence from General Swayne. Not only did the organization buy the academy but also an additional 20 acres of land. Because of Swayne’s efforts, the school was renamed the school to the Swayne School and opened in November 1867 with around 140 students enrolled. This marked history as the state of Alabama’s first private, liberal arts college for blacks.

Only two years later, the Judge of Probate of Talladega County officially issued the school a charter as Talladega College. To continue recognizing General Swayne for his contributions to the school, the founders named the school’s first building Swain Hall to serve as a symbol of the spirit of the beginnings of the college. Following the charter, both Foster and Stone Hall were added to create more space for the hundreds of students attending the school. Throughout the school’s 152 year history, it has added many more buildings to its campus. The first class of students to graduate with a bachelor’s degree was in 1895.

Talladega College is well known for its outstanding undergraduate program in science and mathematics and was named one of the top schools in the United States for Science by Peterson’s Guide. In the last 40 years, Talladega College has received numerous awards for its strong educational institution and continues to serve as an excellent opportunity for students to further their education after high school.

Caitlyn McTier for SylacaugaNews.com | © 2017, SylacaugaNews.com/Marble City Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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