Historical Black Alumni of
Dartmouth College

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Jonathan Clarkson Gibbs
(1821–1874 )
Dartmouth College A.B. 1852

Jonathan Clarkson Gibbs
Class of 1852

Clergyman, Abolitionist, and Reconstruction Politician


alumnus image Jonathan Clarkson Gibbs of Philadelphia concluded a brilliant academic career as Dartmouth's 1852 commencement speaker. Gibbs studied at Princeton Theological Seminary before assuming his first pastorate at the Liberty Street Presbyterian Church in Troy, NY, a center of abolitionist thought and action. After the Civil War, he went South to serve in the uplift of the formerly enslaved. A leader in Republican political affairs, he was appointed as Florida's Secretary of State and Superintendent of Public Education. A life of achievement ended prematurely at age 52 under suspicious circumstances. A news editor wrote that Gibbs was "the best-informed colored man of the state. Negroes have lost one of their noblest representatives and our public school system one of its most intelligent advocates."

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Historical Black Alumni of
Dartmouth College

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Robert Davis Brown
(1873–1940 )
Dartmouth College A.B. 1898

Robert Davis Brown
Class of 1898

Episcopal Priest and Loyal Dartmouth Alumnus


alumnus image Robert Brown was born in Richmond, Virginia, and prepared at Washington D.C. preparatory schools before entering Dartmouth and graduating with the Class of 1898. Afterward, he completed studies at the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, MA, and was admitted to the priesthood. He led pastorships in Ohio and New Jersey before settling in Pittsburgh, where he made his most impactful contributions. Beyond his many pastoral duties, Brown led the Pittsburgh Urban League for a decade. At his death, a member wrote, 'The League lost one of its most valued friends and the whole community one of its best-loved citizens. But Pittsburgh is a better city because he passed this way."

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Historical Black Alumni of
Dartmouth College

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James Pleasant Breeden
(1934–2020 )
Dartmouth College A.B. 1956

James Pleasant Breeden
Class of 1956

Episcopal Priest, Educator, and Mississippi Freedom Rider


alumnus image A lifelong educator and civil rights activist, Rev. James P. Breeden was noted for his expansive intellect, memorable eloquence, calm presence, and steadfast commitment to social justice. After Dartmouth, he attended Union Theological Seminary and became an ordained minister. Soon afterward, he joined an Episcopalian group to assert the Church's role in the civil rights movement. In 1961, Breeden bussed with the Freedom Riders to test Mississippi's "Jim Crow" caste system. Later, he was a leader in the struggle to desegregate Boston Public Schools. During a march of thousands in Boston, he commented, "There's very little they can do to us now; we've all been in jail. We have a Freedom Movement in Boston at last." Breeden earned a Harvard doctorate in education and taught at universities in the U.S. and Africa. Late in life, he was Dean of Dartmouth's Tucker Foundation.

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Historical Black Alumni of
Dartmouth College

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Thomas Paul, Jr.
(1812–1885 )
Dartmouth College A.B. 1841

Thomas Paul, Jr.
Class of 1841

Garrison Abolitionist and African Free School Headmaster


alumnus image In 1835, Thomas Paul Jr. and fellow students were ejected by a citizen mob from an abolitionist's academy in New Canaan, NH. He returned to New Hampshire two years later as Dartmouth's second Black student and found fellowship with like-minded students. Before graduating in 1841, he delivered an antislavery speech in Boston's State House. From the podium, he pronounced, "The great characteristic of American slavery is its hatred of the free colored man. His flesh is not bared to receive the lash, and his limbs are unfettered, yet he feels his immortal mind dragged to the dust by a weight far more torturing than fetters." Paul began his teaching career in Boston as headmaster of the African Free School.

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Historical Black Alumni of
Dartmouth College

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Augustus Washington
(1821–1875 )
Dartmouth College 1843-44 1847

Augustus Washington
Class of 1847

Daguerreotypist, Liberian Colonist, and Politician


alumnus image In 1843 while on winter break from Dartmouth, Augustus Washington learned to use the daguerreotype camera. A few years later, he captured John Brown's steely eyes and grim stare, a signature memento now preserved at the National Portrait Gallery. In these same years, a Hartford, CT newspaper published Washington's persuasive argument in favor of African colonization by free Blacks. "He who would not rather live anywhere on earth in freedom than in this country in social and political degradation has not attained half the dignity of his manhood." Seeking a better version of freedom, Washington and his family sailed for Liberia in 1853. He prospered as a farmer, politician, and photographer. His daguerreotypes of 19th-century Liberian citizens are preserved at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington.

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Historical Black Alumni of
Dartmouth College

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Noel Agler Day
(1933–1995 )
Dartmouth College A.B. 1953

Noel Agler Day
Class of 1953

College Athlete, Woodsman, and Activist


alumnus image Born in Harlem, Noel Day entered Dartmouth at age 15. A football injury led to his joining the Dartmouth Outing Club's Woodsmen's Team, where he excelled at every event, including fly and baitcasting and logrolling. Throughout his life, Day pursued numerous business, political and social endeavors. After graduation, he directed street-level youth programs in Harlem and Brooklyn. In 1961, Day moved to Boston and pursued progressive causes, including an unsuccessful run for Congress in 1964 and co-founding the 1966 Boston Freedom Schools movement with Jim Breeden ('53). Moving on to San Francisco, Day founded a company to assist government agencies and community organizations in implementing programs for affordable housing, family planning, energy conservation, drug abuse, and AIDS prevention. He died of lung cancer at 61.

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