10 months ago



AN HBCU IN CHRISTIANSBURG, VA? Christiansburg Institute (CI) had humble beginnings similar to those at both Hampton University 74 in Virginia and Tuskegee University 75 in Alabama. Some of the same people were involved during the same time and doing some of the same things. Given the shared history and connections and CI’s dual accreditation status for college courses, it too had the potential to become one of Virginia’s HBCUs. In the 1990s, a local newspaper ran an article about CI’s potential with the following headline, “Institute accredited first in New River.” This supports the concept and starts out saying, “Which school in Montgomery County was the first to gain national prominence? Virginia Tech? No. It was a small, one-room wood frame school in Christiansburg with 12 black students which opened its doors six years before Tech, then known as the Virginia, Agricultural and Mechanical College, began operation in 1872. From this small school grew the Christiansburg Institute which ranked with the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and the Hampton Institute, as the best black schools in the South around 1900, according to Radford University Librarian Ann Swain. Swain, who has spent several years researching the school’s history, said the school educated blacks for 100 years—from 1866 to 1966— a record unmatched by any similar elementary or secondary school.” 76 Indeed the school was unlike any other in the immediate area. We can only speculate about what could have become of Christiansburg Institute. People had to move on and they did; however, the history remains, the legacy remains and some buildings remain. ROAR! “WHERE AT H AMPTON THE PEOPLE HAVE GONE TO SCHOOL; AT CHRISTIANSBURG THE SCHOOL HAS GONE TO THE PEOPLE.” 77 EDGAR A. LONG THE TIGER & THE TORCH Page | 55

ENGAGEMENT: FINDING A NEST Bird Nest Found on the CI Campus Grounds (2014) ROAR! “YOU CAN'T WALK ALONE. MANY HAVE GIVEN THE ILLUSION, BUT NONE HAVE REALLY WALKED ALONE. MAN IS NOT MADE THAT WAY. EACH MAN IS BEDDED IN HIS PEOPLE, THEIR HISTORY, THEIR CULTURE, AND THEIR VALUES.” 78 PETER A BRAHAMS Nests 79 are constructed based upon primitive, instinctual, and age-old practices. There is not a class for birds on building a better and more diverse nest. They do not consider opinions or gather a consensus from other animals regarding what their nest should or should not include. Birds do not question the necessity of a nest. They simply make it happen to protect themselves and their offspring. Oftentimes as people, we can think too much and act too little. Part of this can be attributed to the fact that there are certain behaviors which are innate, whereas others are intellectual. Psychologists refer to this struggle as nature versus nurture, 80 and there is research to support the merits and shortcomings of each. The nest pictured in this section conveys balance between nature and nurture and serves as a metaphor for effective community engagement. THE TIGER & THE TORCH Page | 56

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