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Frederick Douglass was on Storer’s board of trustees, and delivered a memorable speech on white abolitionist John Brown’s attempt to lead an armed slave revolt in Harper’s Ferry. The school ultimately became a hotbed for early civil rights leaders and was the site of W.E.B. Du Bois’ Niagara Movement second annual conference in 1906.

Storer College has educated a number of prominent students, including West Virginia’s first Black attorney, J.R. Clifford. Don Redman, an important jazz figure and great-uncle of saxophonist Joshua Redman, also attended Storer. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria’s first president, attended the school in the ’20’s.

Under the leadership of school president Henry T. McDonald, Storer officially became a college in 1938. But the school’s degrees were never accredited, and there were financial hurdles due to low enrollment. In 1954 after the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision that legally ended segregation, the state withdrew its federal funding of the school and Storer shuttered its doors in 1956.

The school’s records are maintained today by Howard University and Virginia Union University. The site of the school is a federally maintained area within Harper’ Ferry National Park.

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Little Known Black History Fact: Storer College  was originally published on

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