Overview of SSU

Savannah State University was founded when enabling legislation was passed by the

Georgia General Assembly on November 26, 1890, creating a normal school for 

the training of Black citizens. The fledgling institution, known as the Georgia State

Industrial College (GSIC) for Colored Youths, began its first session in June 1891, in

the Baxter Street School Building in Athens, Georgia, with Richard R. Wright, Sr.,

as principal, and was considered a part of the University of Georgia. Religious and

educational leaders such as Professor John McIntosh, Reverend E. K. Love, James

Simms, Alexander Harris, and others met in March 1891, in the basement of the

First African Baptist Church and developed a proposal that convinced Judge Peter

W. Meldrim, chair, and the other white members of the Georgia State Industrial

                                                        College Board of Commissioners to locate the new Black institution in Savannah. 

The College was established as a result of the Second Morrill Land Grant Act of

August 30, 1890, which had specific wording mandating the development of Black

land grant colleges in the southern and border states. The early educational paradigm

of the College was based on the Talented Tenth philosophy of W. E. B. DuBois,

the vocationalism of Booker T. Washington, and the model of the New England

College espoused by Richard R. Wright, Sr., as a result of his education under the

American Missionary Association at Atlanta University. The early curriculum had

normal, agricultural, and college programs. The College opened in Savannah on

October 7, 1891, with Richard R. Wright, Sr., as principal, five students from Ware

High School in Augusta, and a foreman for the farm. Richard R. Wright, Jr., received

the first baccalaureate degree from the College in June 1898. During Wright’s presidency,

United States Presidents William McKinley (December 1898) and William Howard Taft

(May 1, 1912) visited the campus.

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