|The annual contingent of African American
students symbolized African American faith in race educability and in African American
determination to pursue, as much as possible during an extraordinary period of racial
prejudice, segregation and repression, the constitutional right and privilege of
participating in American society on an equal basis with other citizens.
The second challenge of forming and maintaining a biracial allegiance to sustain Howards development was a major achievement of the Universitys incorporators. Howard supporters from 1867 to 1910 embraced ideas challenging the existing societal mores and tenets as applied to racial interaction and interpretation. In developing an institution which eventually achieves the status as the "first mature university organization" constructed for African Americans in the modern civilized world, the first Howardites enunciated indirectly their most fervent beliefs: belief in the educability of African Americans; belief in the necessity to challenge the concept of racial inferiority applied to African Americans based upon pseudo-scientific mythology; belief in the necessity of co-educational and multiracial education to foster a solid foundation capable of surviving in the American system of higher education; belief in educating African Americans, as well as "disadvantaged whites;" belief in the races potential for progressive interaction with the nations diverse majority population; and belief in creating an African American intelligentsia who would come to understand the "genius of American life" and its potential for growth.
Because of their unconventional beliefs, adherence to their Christian tenets, and their deeds, Caucasian members of the early Howard community suffered ostracism and humiliation. Nevertheless, their noble agenda of gender and ethnic diversity progressed at Howard. During the period 1867 to 1910, educated African Americans interacted at various university levels. Early faculty members included George B. Vashon, the first African American appointed in 1867; Alexander Augusta and Charles B. Purvis, members of the first medical faculty; and John Mercer Langston and John B. Reeve, who served as faculty members in the Law and Theological Departments respectively.