Frannie Jackson Coppin

Born into slavery, Jackson became free when her aunt purchased her freedom at age 12. She entered Oberlin College in 1860, and while there spent her evenings giving free courses at no cost in reading and writing to free blacks. After her graduation with a Bachelor’s degree in 1865, she was appointed principal of the Ladies Department at the Institute for Colored Youth (ICY). In 1869, she became head of the school, replacing Ebenezer Bassett, who was appointed as Minister to Haiti by President Grant. During her 37 years at ICY, Jackson was responsible for vast education improvements. After her marriage to Rev. Levi Coppin, Jackson became a missionary with her husband in South Africa. In 1893, she was one of five African American women to speak at the World’s Congress of Representative Women in Chicago. Coppin State University in Baltimore is named in her honor. A Pennsylvania historical marker honoring Fannie is on Cheyney University’s campus off Dilworthtown and Cheyney Roads. It is among the state’s oldest historical markers, dedicated in 1912.

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