Home > Uncategorized > February 8 – Alexander Lucius Twilight

February 8 – Alexander Lucius Twilight

Two good friends of mine, Steph and Nish, work at an education non-profit in California called Aspire Public Schools. Recently, Aspire named one of its schools after the first African American to earn a bachelor’s degree from an American college. Who did they name this K-8 Charter School after…?

Alexander Lucius Twilight was born September 26, 1795 in Corinth, Vermont to free parents Mary and Ichabod Twilight (a former Private in the American Revolution). From the young age of 8, Alexander was forced to work as an indentured servant on a neighboring farm. This lasted for 12 years, but during that time, he also read, studied, and learned mathematics. Finally, in 1815, Twilight had the opportunity to enroll in Randolph’s Orange County Grammar School, and in only 6 years managed to complete his entire secondary-school education AND 2 years of college level curriculum. After Randolph’s, Twilight attended Middlebury College (also in Vermont), where he completed the remainder of his college courses and became the first African American ever to receivehis baccalaureate degree.

Alexander went on to become a teacher and a preacher, first in New York and later back in Vermont. In 1829, he concurrently served as the Brownington Congregational Church’s minister and principal of the Orleans County Grammar School. The school would later be renamed the Brownington Academy. As the head of the academy, Twilight was dedicated to providing a solid education and secure boarding to all of his students, both local and out-of-town. With this in mind, he designed, raised funds for, and built the all-granite Athenian Hall(pictured above), which functioned as a co-ed school and dormitory. Athenian Hall was the first public building of its kind in Vermont and still stands today as the Old Stone House Museum, a part of the National Historic District.

Adding to his impressive list of accomplishments, Alexander Twilight was elected to the Vermont General Assembly in 1836, becoming the first African American to be elected to public office as a state legislator. In 1847, Twilight left his job as headmaster due to conflicts with County school administrators and moved to Quebec. But five years later, he returned again and was reinstated as the headmaster of Brownington Academy. Alexander Twilight died 5 years later on June 19, 1857.

To learn more about Aspire Public Schools, please visit www.aspirepublicschool.org.

thanks for reading,

francis

“The Reverend Alexander Twilight: scholar, husband, teacher, preacher, legislator, father-away-from-home to nearly 3,000 boys and girls, an African American and a Vermonter of great vision, whose remains today lie buried in the church-yard just up the maple-lined dirt road from his granite school, in what surely was, and still is, one of the last best places anywhere.” ~Howard Frank Mosher, 1996

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