North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University (NC A&T)

Written By Peter Cotell

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, more commonly known as NC A&T, is a historically black university located in Greensboro, North Carolina. It is the largest historically black college or university (HBCU) in the country, with 13,885 students in the fall of 2023.  

NCA&T was the second college established with federal funds granted by the Morrill Act of 1890. However, it was not officially founded until 1891. That year, a temporary college that acted as an annex of Shaw University was moved to Greensboro to serve the needs of the African-American community in the Piedmont region. The school officially opened its doors in the fall of 1893.  

The school would change its name from the Agricultural and Mechanical College for the Colored Race to the Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina in 1915. It would be designated as a university in 1967 by the N.C. General Assembly.

NC A&T joined the consolidated University of North Carolina System in 1972. The first female students were admitted in 1928.  

NC A&T is most notable for its role in the civil rights movement. The famous lunch counter sit-Ins began when four of its students, Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil, David Richmond, and Ezell Blair Jr., took seats at the Woolworth Department Store’s lunch counter, refusing to move although the store was segregated. The students, who became known as the A&T Four, endured racial slurs and violence as they peacefully sat. Their actions, while not the first sit-ins against segregation to occur, became widely popular, inspiring tens of thousands of other people to use similar methods in fighting segregation and Jim Crow laws.  

Students at NC A&T have the opportunity to study 58 bachelor’s degrees, 36 master’s programs, and 13 doctoral degrees. The school fields 13 athletic teams, known as the Aggies. The Aggies are particularly known for their success in football, claiming seven HBCU national championships. The school’s most notable alumni include civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson;  astronaut Dr. Ronald E. McNair, U.S. congresswoman Alma Adams, and NFL running back Tarik Cohen.