Educational Organizations

What was the American Negro Academy?

Founded in Washington, D.C., on March 5, 1897, the American Negro Academy (ANA) was the first major African-American learned society. Its constitution defined the ANA as “an organization of authors, scholars, artists, and those distinguished in other walks of life, men of African descent, for the promotion of Letters, Science, and Art.” Members of the organization hoped that through the academy educated black elites would be molded to shape and direct society. Papers of the academy appeared in print until 1924. A leading figure in the founding of the academy was Alexander Crummell (1819–1898), a minister. He conceived of the idea of an American Negro Academy while he was a student at Cambridge University in England. The academy’s membership of forty included such scholars as Pan Africanist and educator W.E.B. Du Bois (1868–1963), educator Kelly Miller (1863–1939), poet Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872–1906), and educator William Sanders Scarborough (1852–1926). Noted contributors to its publications were Du Bois and Theophilis G. Steward. After Crummell died in 1898, Du Bois was elected president of the academy. Until its demise in 1928, the ANA claimed some of the black community’s most important leaders. Only a handful of educated blacks ever belonged to the organization. During its existence, only ninety-nine were members at various times.


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