Dr. Umar Johnson, a controversial Black activist and orator, is launching an ambitious campaign to raise enough money to purchase St. Paul’s College in Virginia and convert it into a residential boarding school for African-American boys.
The Board of Trustees at St. Paul’s has given Johnson until Aug. 21 to raise the $5 million needed to acquire the historically Black college and refurbish its 35 campus buildings after the school was forced to close its doors last year amid declining enrollment and debt.
The sprawling campus founded in 1888 in rural Lawrenceville is surrounded by a historic African-American community. But after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools stripped the school of its accreditation in 2012, it never recovered.
Now, Johnson wants to create the Frederick Douglass Marcus Garvey Academy (FDMG) and enroll about a 1,000 African-American boys into the school from all across the country.
“Five million is a steal for a college campus,” says Johnson, a published author who quit his job working as a school psychologist in 2006 and has since become a sought-after speaker, particularly on college campuses. “If I don’t get the property, it will likely be sold to White folks and turned into a private gated community.”
If Johnson is successful in raising the funds, the self-professed Black nationalist says that, in addition to the traditional subjects taught in most schools, the curriculum will also focus on training students for “self-employment and entrepreneurship” so that they can generate income without going to college. For those who want to go on and earn a degree, he says that the faculty at FDMG will steer students exclusively toward HBCUs.
“A man’s bread and butter is only guaranteed when he can work for them,” says Johnson, who added that the school’s curriculum will also focus on agricultural, dietary, economics and political science along with ongoing instruction in “African-centered” spirituality. Trades such as cosmetology, plumbing, auto, carpentry and masonry will be offered too.
Source: Diverse Education | Jamal Watson