Black in the Day…Where Everybody is Somebody
November 1, 1901:
On this date Grambling State University was founded. Grambling State University opened on November 1, 1901 as the Colored Industrial and Agricultural School. It was founded by the North Louisiana Colored Agriculture Relief Association, organized in 1896 by a group of African-American farmers who wanted to organize and operate a school for African Americans in their region of the state.
Grambling State University (GSU, Grambling, or Grambling State) is a historically black public university in Grambling, Louisiana. The university is home of the Eddie G. Robinson Museum and is listed on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail. The university is a member-school of the University of Louisiana System and Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
Grambling State was founded in 1901 and accredited in 1949. The school became Grambling College in 1946, named after Judson H. Grambling, a white sawmill owner who donated a parcel of land for construction of the school.
Grambling State University developed from the desire of African-American farmers in rural north Louisiana who wanted to educate other African Americans in the northern part of the state. In 1896, the North Louisiana Colored Agriculture Relief Association led by Lafayette Richmond was formed to organize and operate a school. After opening a small school west of what is now the town of Grambling, the Association requested assistance from Booker T. Washington of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Charles P. Adams, sent to aid the group in organizing an industrial school, became its founder and first president.
Under Adams’ leadership, the Colored Industrial and Agricultural School opened on November 1, 1901. Four years later, the school moved to its present location and was renamed as the North Louisiana Agricultural and Industrial School. By 1928, the school was able to offer two-year professional certificates and diplomas after becoming a state junior college. The school was renamed Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute.
In 1936, the program was reorganized to emphasize rural education. It became known as “The Louisiana Plan” or “A Venture in Rural Teacher Education.” Professional teaching certificates were awarded when a third year was added in 1936, and the first baccalaureate degree was awarded in 1944 in elementary education. The institution’s name was changed to Grambling College in 1946 in honor of a white sawmill owner, P.G. Grambling, who donated a parcel of land for the school. Thereafter, the college prepared secondary teachers and added curricula in sciences, liberal arts and business. With these programs in effect, the school was transformed from a single purpose institution of teacher education into a multi-purpose college.
In 1949, the college was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The Grambling science building is one of twenty-six public structures in Louisiana constructed by prominent contractor George A. Caldwell, who completed major public buildings throughout the state. In 1974, the addition of graduate programs in early childhood and elementary education qualified the school as a university; it was called Grambling State University.
From 1977 to 2000, the university grew and prospered. Several new academic programs were incorporated. New facilities were added to the 384-acre (1.55 km2) campus, including a business and computer science building, school of nursing, student services building, stadium, stadium support facility, and an intramural sports center.
State Representative George B. Holstead of Ruston, whose grandfather had been instrumental in the founding of Louisiana Tech, worked to increase state appropriations for both Louisiana Tech and Grambling State University during his legislative tenure from 1964-1980.
On December 7, 2010, the Grambling State University Historic District, an area comprising 16 buildings dating from 1939 to 1960, was added to the National Register of Historic Places.