Professor John Randall Blackburn, son of William and Fanny (Randall) Blackburn, was born April 4, 1841, in Essex County, Virginia. His father was a colored man, a respectable and successful farmer who was ambitious for his son to get an education and make his mark in the world. Previous to the war, he removed to Cincinnati, Ohio, where his son fitted for college and entered Dartmouth with the class in the fall of 1859. He remained two years and was a very exemplary student.
At the close of Sophomore year he received a very flattering offer to become Principal of the Public Schools for colored people in Xenia, 0. He held this position ten years, from July, 1861, to July, 1871. He managed the schools with great success. He then resigned to accept the position of Professor of Mathematics in Alcorn University, Rodney, Miss., which position he held two years. He then responded to the urgent request for him to return and become Principal of the High School for colored children at Xenia, O., which position he held till 1889, when he resigned to become Principal of the Clark High School at Evansville, Ind., which position he now holds.
Professor Blackburn has been a successful teacher from the start and holds high rank among the educators of the Middle West. The degree of A. M. was conferred on him by Alcorn University in 1872, and by Dartmouth College in 1883. He has been Trustee of Wilberforce University since 1869. He has been Trustee of Ohio University at Athens during the past fifteen years. He has a rank as an educator of the colored race next to that of Booker T. Washington.
Professor Blackburn has been twice married and has a family of several children, the youngest of whom is about nine years old. His oldest son, John R. Blackburn, Jr., was Captain of a company of colored men in the Spanish War in 1898, and won much distinction for his efficiency as an officer and his bravery as a soldier. He is also an orator of no small ability. He had been a teacher for several years before entering the army.