Sepia toned map of Southeast Ohio
Claiming an Education: Early Black American Humanists

Educators | Teachers and Professors Passionate about Education

Olivia Davidson


Olivia Davidson, portrait

Olivia Davidson (1854-1889) co-founded the Tuskegee Institute with her husband Booker T. Washington.

Martha Jane Hunley Blackburn (1895-1992) was the first Black woman to graduate from Ohio University and built a career as a devoted and inspirational teacher.

Both within and beyond the university, women have played a vital part of promoting education in the region. See the exhibit "Women Promoting Education in Southeast Ohio" for the stories of notable women including Davidson and Blackburn who have promoted the educational mission of Ohio University, the Athens community, and the state, from the 1840s to the 1980s.

Read more about them at Women Promoting Education in Southeast Ohio.

Connie Perdreau


Connie Perdreau, portrait

President of the Association of International Educators: Cornelia (Connie) Whitener Perdreau’s family had been in America since the mid-1700s when a female ancestor was sold as an enslaved woman in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1996, she became the first Black woman named President of the Association of International Educators, which is the world’s largest organization promoting the teaching of foreign languages and the exchange of students and scholars to and from the United States. 

ESL Teacher, Researcher of History: She came to Ohio University in 1976 as an English as a Second Language instructor for the university’s Ohio Program of Intensive English (OPIE)  and also worked as the study-abroad coordinator for the College of Arts & Sciences. She pursued groundbreaking research in the area of Black history of Ohio University and Southeast Ohio and worked with local members of the minority population to develop their knowledge of their history and culture.

Edwin Curmie Price


Edwin Curmie Price, portrait

OHIO’s First Black Faculty Member: Edwin Curmie Price became Ohio University’s first Black faculty member when he was hired by the English Department in 1963. He taught first-year writing courses and earned an M.A. degree in literature the following year. 

On to Yale, Wesleyan, Case Western and more: He only remained at OHIO for two years before entering the doctoral program at Yale, during which time he also taught at the Center for Humanities at Wesleyan University. During his career he taught at Case Western Reserve University, Cuyahoga Community College, Notre Dame College, Ashland University, and Cleveland State University, and he held several administrative posts in county governments. He also published two books of poetry, and returned to Ohio University several times in his career to share his experience and knowledge with students and faculty.

Read more at University community mourns Edwin Curmie Price Jr., alumnus and OHIO's first Black faculty member.