Black History Month: Fanny Jackson Coppin - A Trailblazer in Education

A  pioneer in education, Fanny Jackson Coppin conquered overwhelming obstacles and became an educator who lifted up generations of African-Americans. Escaping slavery at the age of 12, her education was self-taught until she enrolled herself in Oberlin College, which was the first college that accepted both black and female students. 

While at Oberlin, Coppin established a special school with evening classes to teach freed slaves. In 1869, Coppin became the nation’s first African-American woman to be appointed a school principal while at the Institute for Colored Youth (ICY) in Philadelphia (the forerunner of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania). A few years later, she was promoted by the Philadelphia Board of Education to superintendent, becoming the nation’s first African-American superintendent of a school district.  

In 1926, a school for teacher training was named Fanny Jackson Coppin Normal School in honor of Fanny Jackson's contribution to teacher education. Now an HBCU, the school, located in Baltimore, was eventually named Coppin State University.