A Brave History

Founded in 1871, six years after the Civil War ended, Alcorn State University traces its heritage to the Morrill Acts that funded establishing state-supported universities open to everyone. The Morrill Acts remain among this country’s most influential educational legislation.

Justin Smith Morrill, who represented Vermont in the United States Senate and House of Representatives for nearly 44 years, was an abolitionist who wanted to extend higher education

beyond elite whites. He pushed for a higher education system that would teach agricultural and mechanical skills, rather than just arts.

The Morrill Act of 1862 passed during the Civil War, granting land for states to establish public universities. The land was sold, generating funds to open universities with doors open to all. The Confederate states became eligible after the war ended. The Morrill Act of 1890 extended support to 17 states with segregated schools. The act granted funding for black colleges, creating a group of Negro land-grant universities commonly referred to as the 1890s.

Alcorn State University is unique among the 1890s institutions, because it also received funding from the first Morrill Act, making it America’s oldest public historically black land-grant institution. Alcorn is also Mississippi’s second oldest state-supported university.

A Brave Today

Alcorn is proud to be among the thriving 1890 land-grant universities. We were established to educate African-Americans freed after the Civil War. We now attract a racially and ethnically diverse student body from 40 states and more than 20 countries. We educate those of limited means, as well as the affluent. Alcorn’s active programs engage students in applied and basic research while stimulating intellectual development and lifelong learning. Our curriculum extends far beyond our agricultural-and-mechanical focused origins to include math, robotics and automation, nursing and biotechnology. We remain a leader in agricultural education, annually conferring degrees in agribusiness management, agricultural economics and agricultural science. We teach our students to join us in serving communities by emphasizing the importance of volunteerism and public service. Alcorn grooms well-rounded, 21st century graduates who are prepared to serve and lead their communities while contributing to the global marketplace.

Forever Brave

Alcorn’s legacy of investing in people and communities will continue to provide great opportunities for generations to come. Our collaborative partnerships ensure a vibrant tomorrow for our students and the communities in which they live and serve.

Through teaching, research and extension, we are committed to planting the seeds that will ensure a better quality of life locally, nationally and globally for those we serve.

As a network of historically black colleges and universities dedicated to providing educational opportunity for all people through innovative scientific research and community minded Cooperative Extension programs, the 1890 Land-Grant universities are…

  • Providing relevant and distinctive teaching programs for a broad spectrum of students, but particularly for first generation college students and those who have limited opportunities.
  • Addressing health disparities and obesity prevention.
  • Enhancing capacity, marketability, profitability, sustainability and diversity in agricultural enterprises for small-and-limited-resource operations.
  • Engaging young people through leadership development and 4-H programs and activities that enhance their understanding and interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education and careers.
  • Developing and expanding national and international access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food.
  • Enhancing the resilience of families, individuals and communities for upward social and economic mobility.
  • Engaging individuals and communities in environmental stewardship.
  • Conducting cutting-edge research to generate new knowledge and solutions to global challenges.