PRINCESS ANNE, Md.--Morgan State University's year-long celebration of its 150th anniversary included a Founders' Week ceremony formally recognizing the University of Maryland Eastern Shore's shared history with the Baltimore institution.
Morgan President David Wilson presented Dr. Juliette B. Bell, his UMES counterpart, with a proclamation declaring Dec. 1, 2017 “Princess Anne Academy Day” as a sesquicentennial milestone.
From 1886 until the mid-1930s, the institution commonly referred to as Princess Anne Academy was a branch of Morgan, both of which were founded by Methodist Episcopal Church leaders to provide African-Americans with access to formal education.
Academy graduates frequently went on to enroll in Morgan to earn a college degree until the state of Maryland acquired the Princess Anne prep school in the midst of the Great Depression and converted it into a baccalaureate-degree granting public institution.
Mary Omega Moore was a 1926 Academy graduate who earned two degrees from Morgan and eventually settled on Delmarva, where she first taught and then served as a popular Cooperative Extension Service agent. Moore's son, 1978 UMES alumnus Bill Jones, traveled from Charlotte to represent his late mother during the Morgan proclamation event at his alma mater.
Morgan's Sesquicentennial Celebration Committee also unveiled a custom-inscribed brick that Wilson announced will be placed in a prominent location in the heart of the Baltimore campus.
Bell said Princess Anne Academy's early relationship with Morgan “strengthened its resolve to provide educational opportunity for all students, regardless of race or socio-economic status - and we were laying the foundation for our long-term commitment as the state's public 1890 land-grant institution.”
“Then, and now,” Bell said, “We, along with Morgan, sought parity for our institutions -- that we might advance our mission through the procurement of resources that would enhance our educational offerings, build facilities and hire faculty and staff that would help us to prepare future generations.”
The proclamation ceremony also singled out the Academy's first five leaders, who were Morgan employees; Dr. Thomas Kiah, Frank Trigg, Dr. Pezavia O'Connell and the school's first two principals, Benjamin and Portia Bird.
The Birds' great-granddaughter, Belinda Patrick and her daughter LaTonya Bannister and son-in-law Richard were on hand to celebrate the moment.
After each of the former leaders was briefly recognized, a special sesquicentennial bell was sounded as a tribute to their contribution.
“It's an honor to be part of such a wonderful ceremony,” Bannister said.