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Leadership, Character, Service

Florida Memorial University is the only Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in Miami, Florida. The University is the product of two institutional mergers in 1941 involving Florida Baptist Institute established by the Black Baptists of Florida in Live Oak in 1879 and the Florida Baptist Academy established in Jacksonville, Florida in 1892 by Reverend Mathew Gilbert, Reverend J. T. Brown, and Sarah Ann Blocker. Both institutions espoused industrial education, domestic arts, teacher education, agricultural, mechanical, religious training. In Jacksonville, college President Nathan White Collier recruited noted faculty, including J. Rosamund Johnson, who later assisted his brother, James Weldon Johnson in composing the Black national anthem, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” while employed at Florida Baptist Academy. Both institutions received financial support from the Rockefeller General Education Board, Baptist organizations, the Bethany Association, and the American Home Mission Society.

In 1918, the institution relocated to St. Augustine, Florida, where it remained until 1968. From 1924 to 1940, the institution achieved numerous milestones, including construction of several new buildings and dormitories, a change of name to Florida Normal and Industrial Institute, and accreditation by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Florida Department of Education in 1931. The institution changed its name to Florida Memorial College in 1963, relocated to Miami, Florida in 1968, and became Florida Memorial University in March 2006, with 41 undergraduate degree programs and graduate programs in education and business administration. Florida Memorial University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, the National Association of Schools of Music, and the Council on Social Work Education.

Rose C. Thevenin

In Carole Boyce Davies eds. The Encyclopedia of the African Diaspora, (ABC-CLIO, 2008), 446.