Being the “first” or “oldest” among Black colleges is a claim many institutions from Ohio to Pennsylvania to Kentucky make with merit. It depends on the category in which they make the claim:men or women or co-ed; the year they began offering certificates or diplomas; state or region; public or private.Higher education for Blacks in the South, chronologically, socially and politically, appears rooted in five institutions, organized with different visions and goals in mind, yet with no idea of the hurdles they or their successors would face.It all is traceable to the volatile years of 1866 to 1868, the initial years of post-Civil War Reconstruction. The other two — one in St. Augustine, North Carolina, the other in Savannah, Georgia — were founded on a small scale and, many years later, became normal schools then universities.In Nashville, which had been the base for a number of federally protected campuses for runaway slaves then called “contraband,” General Clinton B. Fisk, recruited to be an assistant commissioner of the Freedmen’s Bureau in charge of Kentucky and Tennessee, worked with the American Missionary Association (AMA) to establish a school there.In January 1866, the “Fisk Free Colored School” opened its doors to Blacks, Whites, men and women. Within a year, it had nearly 1,000 students. Although it started with lower-grades education, it was only a few years before Fisk was graduating students with sufficient training to be sent to other emerging free schools to teach others, according to federal and Fisk University historical documents.