Alexander Twilight: The education advocate

March 2, 2022


Ayaana Pradhan

Alexander Twilight was a huge advocate for African Americans receiving education in the 1800s.

Alexander Twilight also valued his education. He was the first African American to graduate from an American college in 1823. He was born in Corinth, Vermont on September 23, 1725, to Mary and Ichabod Twilight. Twilight and his parents were of mixed race of African and English descent. He worked as an indentured servant on a farm from eight to 21 years old. Twilight attended Middlebury College in 1821 and graduated two years later in 1823 with a Bachelors degree. 

During those years, Middlebury was a very small college with only four professors and four tutors teaching a student body of approximately 100 students. Twilight enjoyed another first in his life when he was the first American of African descent elected to serve in the Vermont general assembly in 1836.

He later became a minister, school teacher, and headmaster. He designed and raised money to build the first granite public building in Vermont, this building named Athenian Hall contained both classrooms and a dormitory. Twilight died on June 19, 1857, and is buried in Brownington. Today, there is a free academic program called the Alexander Twilight Academy that provides Boston area students from under-resourced backgrounds with high-quality education and real-life opportunities. It is named after the first African American to graduate in the United States.

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