Edward Waters College has over 150 years of influence and history

Jacksonville, Florida – Florida’s oldest Historically Black College is located here in Jacksonville. Edward Waters College was founded in 1866 by members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church to educate freedmen.

Despite the challenges of the school, we continue to provide space for all students to receive higher education.

A television personality, Professor Rahman Johnson of Edward Waters College is now a prominent graduate of EWC. He earned his degree more than 20 years ago, but his roots were planted in the 1920s with his grandmother, who was also an alum.

“To come here, she caught a pulpwood truck from Stark, where our family settled after the reconstruction,” Johnson said.

Johnson is now following in the footsteps of his grandmother, flaunting the Centennial Library. It is the only building that survived the great fire of Jackson Building in 1901. The flames extinguished most of downtown, but could not kill the spirit of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which decided to educate freedmen when no one else did.


“The AME Church was the oldest African-American denomination in the country.” I don’t know if I can send money. I can’t force the government to give 40 acres and mules, but you’re educated. You can be sure that you are, “says Johnson.

The school was first opened in Live Oak as the Brown Theological Institute as a space to educate preachers. A few years after the school opened, I ran out of money and suddenly closed. Resumed in live oak in the late 1870s, the educational goal moved to the big city of Jacksonville and moved to 1883. In less than a decade, it was named Edward Waters University. Once again, of the AME Church, named after the third bishop, Edward Waters.

“In a survey I did, they could do more,” we are bigger than a live oak. We don’t just educate preachers. Opportunities to empower the community That’s why Edward Waters College’s mission is access and opportunity, “says Johnson.


Thanks to Lily Belien, a member of the 1969 class and chairman of the alumni, a historic sign was placed on the Live Oak in 2014 to indicate its original location.

“I love Edward Waters. Edward Waters prepared me and helped me achieve some of the goals I wanted to achieve. Without that education I wouldn’t have achieved it. So my love for Edward Waters is still there, it’s still there, and I still have the Tiger Spirit, “Berryn said.

Vereen wrote a spirit song for her return in 2008. Her tiger spirit shines through ups and downs, as it did when EWC lost its certification during a plagiarism scandal in 2004. It was only a few years later that a former sheriff was brought in to promote the school.

“Now you don’t want me to talk about nuts. I love nuts, nuts were a very serious person to me, and he did the job. He tried to do him He was the man who did not hesitate to say he was, “Veleen said.


EWC graduate and former soccer star Nat Glover became interim president in 2010 and worked to raise that standard for seven years. Glover founded a school for academic success. He spent $ 4.4 million on a newly opened playground and $ 4 million on a budget for a safe area to help renovate a dilapidated dormitory. Glover was a turning point at Edward Waters University and understood the power of education.

“We are still far behind. I think the basis is education and access to education. When not educated, it is a direct line to the criminal justice system,” Glover said. It was.

Dr. Zachary Faison followed Glover as the 30th president of EWC. Phison pays homage to the past, but focuses on the future. He is the youngest leader in the country of historically black colleges and understands that historically black colleges are essential to the country.


“Edward Waters College and HBCU are in charge of middle and professional black classes. 75% of all black doctoral degrees are HBCU graduates. About 46% of all HBCU executives are HBCU graduates. So when we talk about the black middle class, the black professional class (doctors, lawyers, teachers), we’re mainly talking about trained people at the Historically Black Colleges, “Faison said. ..

Since 80% of Edward Waters college students are first-generation college students, they are establishing a new tradition. It sometimes requires a personal push for success.

“I’m calling a student at home, apparently pre-COVID, knocking in a dorm room. We consider ourselves brothers and sisters, so when we have a graduate meeting, It’s a family reunion, “said Johnson.

It seems to be working. Even during the pandemic, Edward Waters University recorded the highest enrollment in 15 years.


The school is ready to become a university with a graduate program in the near future, and leadership is working on a transition to a higher sports sector. It must be the Tiger Spirit that has continued to grow the school for over 150 years.

Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax-All rights reserved.

Edward Waters College has over 150 years of influence and history

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