North Carolina Central University

Written By Peter Cotell

North Carolina Central University (NCCU) is a historically black university in Durham, North Carolina. The school was founded in 1910 by Dr. James E. Shepard, a philanthropist and one of the wealthiest black Americans of the time. The school was originally called the National Religious Training School and Chautauqua for the Colored Race. The school was affiliated with the Chautauqua movement, a cultural movement popular in early 20th century America that was based around education.

In 1915, the school was sold and became known as the National Training School. This era would only last a few years, as in 1923 the NC General Assembly would convert the NTS into the North Carolina College for Negroes. This act would make the college the first state-sponsored liberal arts college for black Americans. The school would officially be designated as a regional university in 1969 and the name was finally changed to North Carolina Central University. In 1972, NCCU would join the University of North Carolina System.

As of fall 2023, NCCU has 7,965 students. The university offers 35 bachelor’s degrees, 31 master’s degrees, and 2 doctoral degrees. The university’s law school is one of the most popular in North Carolina. NCCU fields 14 athletics teams, known as the Eagles.

The men’s basketball team is famous for its 88-44 victory in the 1944 “secret game” against the Duke University Medical School team, one of the best teams in the country. At the time, college basketball was segregated, making this underground matchup one of the first times black and white athletes had played basketball against each other. The teams also played a second game where the two squads mixed players, as one of the first integrated college basketball games in history.

Notable alumni include former editor of Vogue magazine André Leon Talley, former governor of North Carolina Mike Easley, and high school football coach Herman Boone, whose story was portrayed in the movie Remember the Titans.