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Fannie M. Jackson Coppin

Fannie M. Jackson Coppin

Fannie M. Jackson Coppin, was not only the first black woman to graduate from college in the United States, but she was also the first woman to head a coeducation institute of learning in the United States.  She enjoyed a long administration in which she managed to make many positive changes for the students at the Philadelphia Institute for Colored Youth(ICY) later to be known as Cheyney University.

Fannie managed to do away with corporal punishment and she established a dialogue between the school and the parents making them more involved in the schooling of their children.  She initiated monthly report cards that reported not only grade marks but conduct marks as well.  She also sponsored gatherings where students and teachers could spend time with leaders of the community.  Perhaps her most remarkable accomplishment in the education system was to make her institution a more democratic body for middle class black families to educate their children.

She was born a slave in Washington DC and purchased at the age of ten by her aunt who was a free black woman.  She moved with her aunt to New Bedford, Massachusetts and eventually she moved to Newport, Rhode Island where she worked as a servant.  She graduated in 1865 from Oberlin College in Ohio.

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