Key Highlights About Joseph Charles Price:
Pioneer educator and civil rights leader
Founded Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina
Served for ten years as President of Livingstone College
Joseph Charles Price was an educator, civil rights leader, and orator. Established Livingstone College and become its president in October 1882.
Price was born in 1851, to a free black woman named Emily Paulin, who moved with her son to New Bern, North Carolina which was then occupied by Union forces to escape the violence of the Civil War.
In New Bern, Price studied at St. Cyprian Episcopal School founded for the children of ex-slaves by Boston educators. He later attended Shaw University in Raleigh in 1873 but transferred to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1875. Price graduated as valedictorian in 1879 after winning several oratorical prizes.
Impressed with the young Price, Bishop James Walker Hood of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church appointed him to its delegation to the World Ecumenical Conference meeting in London, England.
While in London, Price was recognized as a powerful speaker. He was referenced as “The World’s Orator” by the British press. He was encouraged by the delegation to stay in England and raise funds for the reestablishment of Zion Wesley Institute, later to be Livingston College.
The original school was founded in 1870 as a seminary for training A.M.E. Zion ministers, but closed after only three years in operations. Price set out to raise money for the school, and in 1882 returned with 10,000 dollars for the school. The town of Salisbury offered the school $1,000 and 40 acres called “Delta Grove” belonging to J.M. Gray. The school opened later that year with 28-year-old Price as its president.
Price served as president of Livingston College for ten years. In 1890 he became involved in the Afro-American League and was elected president of the National Protective Association. That same year he was voted one of the “Ten Greatest Negroes Who Ever Lived.” Price died in Salisbury, North Carolina in 1893.
National Education Association, Journal of Proceedings and Addresses (Topeka: Kansas Publishing, 1890); William Jacob Walls, Joseph Charles Price, Educator and Race Leader (Boston: The Christopher Publishing House, 1943).