Talladega College, located in Talladega, Alabama, is a private,
arts college. It holds the
distinction as Alabama's oldest historically black college.
The campus consists of 50 acres with 17 primary buildings 3 of which
are National Historic Landmarks. The Savery Library completed in 1939
was built to replace a 1907 structure built with a donation from
Andrew Carnegie. The Library houses hundreds of thousands of serials,
a record room, a fully equipped computer laboratory, a unique Archives
Room, and the historic Amistad murals painted by Hale Woodruff.
Embedded in the floor of the library is a mural of La Amistad that
school tradition says must never be stepped upon. The revolt that took
place upon the ship is
depicted upon the surrounding walls. Finally the mezzanine floor of
the library houses the Galangue Room. This room contains an extensive
collection of Angolan and Nigerian artifacts.
The history of Talladega College began on November 20, 1865, when two
former slaves William Savery and Thomas Tarrant, both of Talladega,
met in convention with a group of new freedmen in Mobile, Alabama.
From this meeting came the commitment, "...We regard the education of
our children and youth as vital to the preservation of our liberties,
and true religion as the foundation of all real virtue, and shall use
our utmost endeavors to promote these blessings in our common
With this as their pledge, Savery and Tarrant, aided by General Wager
Swayne of the Freedmen's Bureau, began in earnest to provide a school
for the children of former slaves of the community.
Their leadership resulted in the construction of a one-room school
house using lumber salvaged from an abandoned carpenter's shop.
The school overflowed with pupils from its opening and soon it was
necessary to move into larger quarters. Meanwhile, the nearby Baptist
Academy was about to be sold under mortgage default. This building had
been built in 1852-53 with the help of slaves - including Savery and
A speedy plea was sent to General Swayne for its purchase. General
Swayne in turn persuaded the American Missionary Association to buy
the building and some 20 acres of land for $23,000. The grateful
the building Swayne School and it opened in November 1867 with about
140 pupils. Thus a building constructed with slave labor for white
students became the home of the state's first college dedicated to
servicing the educational needs of blacks.
In 1869, Swayne School was issued a charter as Talladega College by
the Judge of Probate of Talladega County. Swayne Hall has remained in
service as the symbol and spirit of the beginning of the college.
627 W. Battle St.
Talladega, AL 35160