Black College History

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A college education has never been something to take for granted. That may be especially true for Americans who were denied opportunities due to segregation. Kim Riemland has the story of one family who wrote their own version of black history, by making sure each of their children was able to go to college.     

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(Locator: Atlanta, Georgia)

Family members talk: “Pass this around so Roland can… we have two Omegas, two Omegas in here.”

When the descendants of the late William Boston Long get together they share more than old photos…they share a special legacy.

Ralph Albert Long, Jr.: “My mother’s diploma from Clark. We just found this in 1933 wrapped in aluminum foil.”

Nearly 30 members of this family have graduated from the same college…following the example set long ago by a relative named “Long.”

Wylma Long Blanding: “I believe Papa Long graduated in 1924. That’s what I’ve been told.”

Family member: “That’s granddaddy… Ralph Long, Sr.”

For generations, the family home sat on Fair Street in Atlanta near the campus of Clark University, a historically-black institution founded in 1869 by the Methodist Church.

Ralph Albert Long, Jr. / 1966 Clark Graduate: “Before the early 60’s there were no other choices because there was no integration. And you will see at this table people who have integrated and caused change in America in quite a lot of different levels.”

The family says educational opportunities were never taken for granted. Through the years, the family pooled their funds to make sure every child coming up could go to college.

Wylma Long Blanding / 1962 Clark Graduate: “That was the family dinner conversation. All we ever heard was Clark. We just knew almost from birth that we were going to college and we were going to Clark.”

April Wyatt: “Oh! Who is that? My Grandmommy!”

Funding from the United Methodist Black College Fund guarantees that schools like Clark Atlanta will be here for generations to come.

Harlyn Wyatt, 11-year-old: “It’s very interesting to hear about the family, my family that went to Clark. And I think I would want to go to Clark when I grow up… pretty much… yeah.” (family cheers)


Clark Atlanta University is one of 11 historically-black schools funded by the United Methodist Church. United Methodists support more black colleges and universities than any other church body in the United States.

For more information on Clark Atlanta University and scholarship opportunities through the United Methodist Black College Fund, call 615-340-7378 or visit the Web site.

Also, see: Six generations graduate from Clark Atlanta

Posted: Feb. 11, 2009