Talladega College

Talladega, Alabama

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Talladega College, located in Talladega, Alabama, is a private, liberal 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 country."

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 Tarrant.

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 parents renamed 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.

Talladega College
627 W. Battle St.
Talladega, AL 35160