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Home North Carolina Pasquotank County City of Elizabeth City Historical Markers Joseph C. Price (1854-1893)

Joseph C. Price (1854-1893)

Water Street, Elizabeth City, NC, USA
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Negro orator and teacher. A founder and president of Livingstone College. Born in Elizabeth City. House was 2 miles S."
     Joseph C. Price was born in Elizabeth City, the child of a free mother and a slave father. When his natural father was sold and sent away, his mother, Emily Pailin, married David Price. In 1863 the Prices moved to New Bern where Joseph was enrolled in St. Andrew’s School, opened there by James Walter Hood, later the bishop of the A.M.E. Zion Church. Young Price, though late in beginning his formal education, made exceptional progress. After St. Andrew’s, he attended Cyprian Episcopal School and Lowell Normal School, where he gained the skills needed to become an educator. After completing his own education, he taught in Wilson, becoming the principal at a school there in 1871. In 1873, Price enrolled at Shaw University to study law, but shortly thereafter transferred to Lincoln University (Oxford, Pennsylvania) to prepare for the ministry in the A.M.E. Zion Church. He was valedictorian of his class at Lincoln in 1879 and stayed on at the school to complete the three-year seminary course in only two years.

     In 1881 Price distinguished himself as an orator, speaking on prohibition and later on education and race issues. On a speaking tour in Europe, Price raised nearly $10,000 to establish a college for blacks in North Carolina. With the additional support of Salisbury residents, he became president of Zion Wesley College in 1882. The name was changed to Livingstone College in 1885. Price gained national attention during his tenure at the college. He was offered a variety of prestigious positions, but chose to remain at Livingstone. In 1890 Price was elected president of the Afro-American League and the National Equal Rights Association.

     Price’s promising life ended abruptly October 25, 1893, after he contracted Bright’s disease, a disease affecting the kidneys. He was buried in a mausoleum on the campus of Livingstone College. He was survived by his wife, the former Jennie Smallwood, and their five children, one of whom was yet unborn at the time of her father’s death.

Paul Yandle, “Joseph Charles Price and His ‘Peculiar Work,’” North Carolina Historical Review (January and April 1993): 40-56, 130-152
Walter L. Yates, He Spoke, Now They Speak: A Collection of Speeches and Writings of and on the Life and Works of J.C. Price (1952)
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, V, 143-144—sketch by John Inscoe
Ethel Stephens Arnett, For Whom Our Public Schools Were Named, Greensboro, North Carolina (1973)
Lenwood G. Davis, A Travel Guide to Black Historical Sites and Landmarks in North Carolina (1991)