Located in St. Louis, Harris-Stowe State University is one of the two historically Black colleges in Missouri. The university began as two normal schools: Harris Teachers College and Sumner Normal School. Founded in 1857, Harris Teachers College became the first public teachers’ college west of the Mississippi, primarily training white teachers to work in white elementary schools. Amid a growing African American population, the St. Louis Public School System established a segregated school to prepare Black educators. In 1890, they founded the Sumner Normal School, later renamed Stowe Teachers College in honor of the abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe. In response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, the St. Louis Board of Education consolidated these two institutions to create Harris Teachers College in 1954.
This late-1970s cheer sweater is a relic of an important transitional period at Harris-Stowe State University. At the time, students, alumni, and the St. Louis community rallied for the recognition of the school’s history and its inclusion into Missouri’s system of higher education. In 1977, Stowe Teachers College alumni requested the St. Louis Board of Education to include the name of the Black school into the university’s title. Then, in 1979, the Missouri General Assembly admitted the school to the state system of higher education. Now part of Missouri’s institutions of higher education, the school was renamed Harris-Stowe State College. This recognition enabled the school to expand its programs. Harris-Stowe became the first in the nation to offer a B.S. in Urban Education designed to train education professionals to address problems specific to city schools. Today, Harris-Stowe State University stands as an academic and cultural anchor of St. Louis’ Black community, and its history provides a look into the changing nature of higher education in Missouri.
Subject: Cheerleading, Schools
Contributing Institution: Missouri Historical Society
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County: St. Louis City
Region: St. Louis Metro