In April 2023, the Yale board of trustees voted to confer the M.A. Privatim degree on the Reverend James W. C. Pennington (c. 1807-1870) and the Reverend Alexander Crummell (1819-1898). Both men studied theology at Yale: Pennington from 1834 to 1837 and Crummell in 1840 and 1841. Because they were Black, however, the university did not allow them to register formally for classes or matriculate for a degree. Pennington and Crummell could not participate in classroom discussions or access library resources. Despite suffering these and other injustices, they audited classes and went on to become noted pastors, guiding others with dignity and conscience toward liberation and equality. Pennington, born enslaved, published a powerful autobiography, The Fugitive Blacksmith, as well as the first African American history textbook. Crummell was a pan-African scholar and organizer and founded the American Negro Academy in Washington, D.C. Both were leaders in the abolition movement.
On September 14, 2023, Yale University and Divinity School will honor the Rev. James W. C. Pennington ’23 M.A.H. and the Rev. Alexander Crummell ’23 M.A.H. Read the university statement that first announced this event.
The event will involve a procession from Center Church to Battell Chapel, where the program will take place at 4:00 p.m.
A reception at the Schwarzman Center will follow.
4:00 - 5:00 p.m.
400 College Street
New Haven, CT
5:15 - 6:30 p.m.
168 Grove Street
New Haven, CT