Southern Christian Institute

Edwards, Mississippi

1875-1953

E-Travel

The remains of the Southern Christian Institute campus are listed on the National Register. The Preservation in Mississippi website shows images of those structures.  Mississippi State University has placed the 1924-25 school catalog on line.   Profiles of the school appear in Era of Progress and Promise,  in John Irving E. Scott's  Negro Students & Their Schools,  and in Charles H. Wilson's Education for Negroes in Mississippi Since 1910.

History

Southern Christian Institute grew out of concerns for the education of Negroes in the South at the time of the Civil War.  Randall Faurot, an army chaplain, began schools for Negroes at Jackson and Alcorn. What became Southern Christian Institute was begun by Thomas Munnell  in 1873.  Sponsored by the General Christian Missionary Society of the Disciples of Christ Church, it was chartered by the state of Mississippi in 1875 and moved to the Cook Plantation near Edwards, MS in 1880.  Faurot served as its first president.

 

The catalog lists three departments--literary, music, and industrial training. While Era of Progress and Promise describes SCI as "an industrial training school for Negroes,"  only 22 of 232 students were actually enrolled in that department in 1924.  Under the literary department were the college and academy (grades 9-14), the junior academy (grades 7-8) and the community school (grades 1-6).   Scott shows a 6-4-4 structure with grades 9-10 placed in the junior academy.

 

Wilson states that the impetus for the school was a belief "that ministers and Bible school teachers should be better educated."  Therefore, the curriculum had a liberal arts bias toward English, history and mathematics.  Bible classes (and chapel) were required.  Education classes were an elective for the high school; Latin was a college elective.

 

Student activities included religious organizations--Senior Endeavor, Missionary Society, YMCA and YWCA-- and  literary societies--Franklin and Philo.  Scott lists debate and dramatics, a school newspaper, and choral music. The SCI Jubilee Singers and Mt. Beulah Singers are mentioned in newspaper accounts.

 

Students wore a school uniform of dark skirt or trousers and a white shirt.  Female students were allowed to bring one "thin dress" to wear for social events, but were forbidden to wear it during graduation week unless they were actually graduating.

An 1886 account in Interocean shows that financial support for the school from Northern individuals and church groups ranged from 23 cents to one hundred dollars.  In 1949 the Dallas Morning News reported that Jarvis Christian College shared its $125,000 oil royalties with SCI.

 

Enrollment had reached 180 by the third year and remained stable for much of the school history.  Era of Progress and Promise gives 220, the catalog shows 232 (but only 10 in college).  Wilson shows  219 in 1937.  Enrollment dropped during World War II

 

In 1954, SCI merged with Tougaloo College, a school with similar history and mission.

Bricks and Mortar

Cook Plantation contained an antebellum plantation house, damaged in the war.  "The Mansion" was ultimately restored as the president's house.  The 800-acre campus, soon became 1275 acres with 14 buildings, most built by students.   Faurot Hall, the administration building, was built in 1904.  Allison Hall, the cafeteria, was added in 1909, Smith Hall, the women's dormitory, in 1915, a new administration/classroom building in 1926, and Belding Hall, the boys dormitory, 1935.  Today, Allison, Smith, Belding and the Administration building remain--as does the bell tower (upper right).

 

After the merger, the SCI campus was used by the SNCC to train Civil Rights Movement workers in 1962-63.  In 1971 the campus was purchased by the African Methodist Episcopal Church and reopened as Bonner-Campbell School of Religion.  

 Allison Hall.  The white building in the background is Faurot Hall. (commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Southern_Christian_Institute_Edwards_Mississippi.jpg) accessed  2-05-2017

Sports

The catalog notes that SCI had an Athletic Council which controlled sports activities.  It notes that those who participated must be bona fide SCI students in good academic standing.   

 

The only sport specifically mentioned was baseball.

 

College football data warehouse shows some football activity between 1940 and 1950, with games against Okolona, Alcorn, Mississippi Industrial, Campbell, Samuel Huston, and Jarvis Christian.  In 1949 SCI was listed as a member of the South Central Athletic Conference.

The SCI baseball team.  Image from the 1924-25 catalog.  Used by permission of Mississippi State University Archives)

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