July 31, 2014

On this day July 31st

DARC Ethiophile Chronicles

On this day

July 31, 1874 the first Black man to receive a PhD Patrick Francis Healy, S.J., was inaugurated as president of Georgetown University, the oldest Catholic University in America, and became the first Black to head a predominantly white university.

Patrick Francis Healy (February 27, 1830 – January 10, 1910) was the 29th President of Georgetown University known for expanding the school following the American Civil War. Healy Hall, a National Historic Landmark, was constructed during Healy's tenure and is named after him.

  

He was recognized as the first American of African ancestry to earn a PhD, the first to become a Jesuit priest; and the first to be president of a predominantly white college. Patrick, as he was known, was born into slavery in Macon, Georgia, to the Irish-American plantation owner Michael Healy and his bi-racial slave Mary Eliza. Because of the law of slavery that children took the status of the mother, by the principle of partus sequitur ventrum, Patrick and his siblings were legally considered slaves, although they were three-quarters or more European in ancestry. Patrick was the third son of Mary Eliza and Michael Morris Healy, who had joined in a common-law marriage in 1829.

 

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