On Aug. 30, 1856, Wilberforce University, the first institution of higher education owned and operated by African-Americans, was incorporated in Xenia.
It was founded by the African Methodist Episcopal Church and named for William Wilberforce, an 18th-century English statesman.
Three years earlier, at the Cincinnati Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, an "establishment of literary institution of higher order for the education of Negro people" was recommended.
After much planning, Tawawa Springs, a summer resort with buildings suitable for a school, was purchased in May 1856.
The Methodist Episcopal and the African Methodist Episcopal Conferences of Ohio cooperated in opening the school.
Wilberforce became a stop on the Underground Railroad.
In 1887 the state began to fund the university and established a department that became Central State University.
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