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Southern University Baton Rouge - Southern University in Baton Rouge: America's Heritage

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The Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, more commonly known as “Southern University”, is a historically-black college located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Established on April 1, 1880, the intention of Southern University was to serve the African American community of the state of Louisiana by Pickney “P.B.S.” Pinchback.

Born in 1837, Pinchback was the son of a biracial mother (who was a slave) and her former master. The two eventually left to Mississippi to start a new life, where young Pickney was brought up in an affluent class; his father, however, died when young P.B.S. was only eleven, leaving the rest of the white Pinchback family to condemn and disown him and his mother. Fearful that the white Pinchbacks were going to attempt to enslave Pickney’s mother and her children, she fled with them to Cincinnati. Pickney’s white family eventually repossessed the Mississippi estate and all of his father’s assets.

P.B.S. Pinchback went on to become one of the few officers for the Union during the United States Civil War of African American heritage. Pickney also inherited the governorship of Louisiana from Henry Clay Warmoth, who was impeached for his many corrupt dealings and carpetbagging. Being partially African-American in heritage, Pinchback was the recipient of many death threats throughout his time in the gubernatorial office. Regardless (or perhaps because of), he founded the Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge for “all people of color” so that they may receive an education on par with that of Caucasian-Americans.

Southern University grew and prospered over the years, being one of the first historically black colleges to be visited by a first lady (Eleanor Roosevelt); however, it was subject to many race-related problems, such as the murder of Denver A. Smith and Leonard D. Brown (student activists) which has still been unsolved to this day. Still, there is a vast number of students who attend the Baton Rouge campus nowadays, around 8,900 undergraduates and 1,400 post-grads.

Its athletic team, the Southern Jaguars, plays Division I FCS in football, baseball, and basketball. Southern U.‘s mascot’s name (the jaguar) is LaCumba, who usually dons the school’s blue and yellow colors. The athletic director, Greg LaFleur, a former LSU graduate, played in the National Football League for the Philadelphia Eagles. LaFleur, a tight end, also played for the Indianapolis Colts and the St. Louis Cardinals.

SU’s marching band, affectionately nicknamed “the human jukebox”, has been featured in commercials, several Super Bowl halftime shows, the annual Rose Parade, and Presidential inaugurations. Its all-male constituency lasted for a long time, but eventually was forced to integrate women into its ranks. Another interesting fact is that the magazine USA Today once described Southern University’s band as “the best marching band in the United States”.

Many numerous alumni have been produced from the Southern University at Baton Rouge. Some decide to go into the political, athletic, military, or entertainment field, and yet others excel and contribute to society in another sector. The NBA’s Avery Johnson, American Idol’s Randy Jackson, former U.S. representative Cleo Fields, and Lieutenant General Joe Ballard are all among the University’s notable alumni.

As of current, Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), with eleven different colleges within its perimeters. The Urban setting of Baton Rouge is a nice landscape to the historically black college, which has managed to maintain its population of African American students at 97% (a controversial but still notable figure). Southern University only accepts around 39% of its applicants, with an average GPA between 3.0 and 3.24, 55% women, and 79% in-state.

If you are seeking an Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral degree, Baton Rouge’s own S.U. offers it. The campus is generally commuter and only a lucky 1,008 first-time degree-seeking Freshman get to walk through its doors every year. Yet, the in-state tuition is a measly $4,100.00 (even out of state students only have to front a relatively low $9,892.00).

As we take a closing glance at the Southern University in Baton Rouge, from its historical significance, to its award-winning scholarship, its clear to see that S.U. is one of the most respected colleges in the American South.

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