Remembering John Mercer Langston on His Birthday: A Trailblazer in Education and Politics


John Mercer Langston. Library of Congress description: "Prof. John Langston, Howard University". Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. Brady-Handy Photograph Collection. CALL NUMBER: LC-BH83- 30771
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Born on this day (Dec. 14) in 1829, John Mercer Langston was a congressman, attorney, diplomat, and esteemed educator. He served as the founding dean of the law school at Howard University, where his visionary leadership helped shape and establish the department.

In 1885, he became the first president of what stands today as Virginia State University, an HBCU.

His groundbreaking tenure in Congress extended from 1890 to 1891, representing Virginia and becoming the first African American to hold this position from the state.

Langston’s unwavering commitment to education and civil rights solidified his place as a pioneering force in the relentless pursuit of equality and progress.

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