Black History Month: President of St. Philip’s College follows legacy of female founder

Nation’s only HBCU and Minority serving institution

SAN ANTONIO – Students don’t have to go far or even out of the city to attend a historically Black college. St. Philip’s College was created and expanded into what it is today thanks to local African American leaders, beginning with Miss Artemisia Bowden.

The school began in 1898 as a Saturday evening sewing school for six young Black girls. The bishop of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church wanted to create opportunities for the children of emancipated slaves. In 1902, he initiated Miss Bowden to turn it into a grammar school.

Bowden put everything into building the school, even spending and raising her own money to make sure it stayed open during the great depression.

“It was not easy for her but she persisted. And though the assignment was to create a grammar school, she created a vocational school, an industrial school, to a junior college,” said Dr. Adena Williams Loston, current president of St. Philip’s College.

Bowden served as president for 52 years. She passed away in 1969 and was ultimately named a saint by the episcopal church.

The college has recently opened a new culinary building that bares her name.

Dr. Loston too is creating Black history in San Antonio, following in the footsteps of African American leaders like Bowden. Loston says before coming to St. Philip’s College, she was either the first or only Black person to hold all of her positions throughout her career.

Loston will soon celebrate 14 years as president of St. Philip’s College and among many other awards and honors, was named one of the nation’s top ten most dominate HBCU leaders.

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