St. Martin native was President of Clark University

The name William H. Crogman, is not known in St. Martin, but this St. Martin native was a past president of Clark University in Atlanta Georgia, USA.  

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Described by his peers as churchman, Christian scholar, lecturer, and educator, Crogman distinguished himself during the latter part of the nineteenth century and the first quarter of the twentieth century.

According to historical records Crogman was the first African American to serve in the capacity of President of Clark the university from 1903-1910. During his seven years reign the institutions grew both in numbers and strength.

Professor Crogman was born to William and Charlotte Chippendale Crogman as free a Black in St. Martin on May 5, 1841, during the unholy period of slavery.

Crogman’s interesting story was featured during the daily Black History readings on Radio Soualiga and SOS Radio and was also among the questions featured on Black History quiz, which was organized for the various high schools on both sides of the island. Both events are part of Conscious Lyrics Foundation (CLF) month long Black History Celebration entitled awareness and evaluation.

"The students were pleasantly surprise to learn a native St. Martiner emerged to become president of a prestigious university in the USA," said Shujah Reiph who spoke to second formers of teacher Rhoda Arrindell English class at the St. Maarten academy last week.

Historical record also shows that this young St. Martin native had a troubled childhood loosing both of his parents by the age of fourteen. By 1855 the young orphan befriended the Boomers a New England family who own a ship.

The teenager move to Middleboro, Massachusetts, to live with the Boomers where he sailed for over a decade, on their cargo vessel visiting various ports around the world, Asia, Europe, Australia, and South America gaining experience as a seaman.

The young experienced Crogman convinced his adopted-parents to enroll him in a district school near their home, he work hard and achieved well.

By 1868 when he entered Pierce Academy in Middleboro, Massachusetts, it is said that the principal placed him in a class by himself so that he might continue to excel without the presence of slower students who might hinder his progress.

After graduating in 1870, Crogman was employed by at Claflin College in Orangeburg, South Carolina, as an English teacher where he was the school’s first Black teacher.

By1873 when he enrolled at Atlanta University, he had already independently studied Greek and Latin. The well focused Crogman had a vision for success. In 1876 he received a B.A. degree. In 1879, he received a master’s degree from Atlanta.

According to Louis-Charles Harvey’s biographical sketch of Crogman, one student wrote that "he had the ability to motivate even the dullest student." He was called "a master of his very high calling, teaching." William H. Crogman died in Philadelphia on October 16, 1931.

The CLF is presently conducting a more in-depth research on this St. Martin native who excelled in the field of education.