Although Rollins College did not have an African American student body until the mid-1960s, the College was nevertheless a strong advocate for black education in the years before integration, and this is quite evident by the College’s early philanthropy and support for the Hungerford Vocational School of Eatonville. Located only 4 miles from Rollins College in Winter Park, the Hungerford School originally opened in 1899 as an educational center for the growing African-American population in Central Florida. The school was founded by Russel C. Calhoun, a local teacher and Tuskegee graduate, and named after a local advocate for black education, E.C. Hungerford. Its mission was to educate young African Americans in various vocational pursuits. (1) While the school’s “learn by doing” curriculum focused primarily on agricultural work, students were also to be prepared socially, religiously, physically, and academically so that graduates could obtain a “richer and fuller life.” (1, 2)
Rollins College students and administrators acted in support of Hungerford School throughout the decades leading up to integration. In the 1930s the Rollins Interfaith and Race Relations Committee was formed with the purpose of “bridging the gap between conditions and injustices” by providing aid to needy members of the surrounding community. (3) The Race Relations Committee’s regular community efforts included bringing guest speakers to speak at the Hungerford School, hosting a Christmas party for the local “colored library,” and providing funds to the Winter Park “colored grammar school” to feed impoverished students. (4) President Hamilton Holt, a major race relations advocate and a founding member of the NAACP, was also a vocal supporter of the Hungerford School’s mission during his time at the College (1925-1949). He often connected the school with leaders in national higher education circles and drew media attention to the school’s facilities and funding struggles. (5) Although Hungerford continued to struggle throughout its history until 2009 when it closed, the school was successful in educating thousands of African American students during its time in operation, and Rollins was a historically-significant supporter of this important work.
- Brief history, Hungerford Normal High Industrial School (pamphlet). Drawer 3, cabinet 5, folder 27 titled “Hungerford School.” Rollins College Archives and Special Collections, Winter Park, FL.
- Hungerford in Action (pamphlet). Drawer 3, cabinet 5, folder 27 titled “Hungerford School.” Rollins College Archives and Special Collections, Winter Park, FL.
- Rollins Inter-Faith and Race Relations Committee (pamphlet). Rollins College Archives and Special Collections, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida.
- Correspondence, Race Relations Committee (outline), 1946-1947. Rollins College Archives and Special Collections, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida.
- President Holt to Rollins Faculty and Staff (Letter). Drawer 3, cabinet 5, folder 27 titled “Hungerford School.” Rollins College Archives and Special Collections, Winter Park, FL.
— Kyndall Fairbanks