As the Campus Echo wraps up its 90th year of publication, it is important to look back at how far we have come in nine decades by revisiting the oldest copy of the Echo we have to date.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a copy of Volume 1, Issue 1 of the Echo, but, thanks to the North Carolina Digital Heritage Website, we have literally the second-best thing: the second-ever issue.
Published Dec. 25, 1927, the Echo’s ten-cent “Christmas issue” prominently featured Shepard Hall on the cover.
The women’s dormitory would be renovated into what is now Annie Day Shepard Residence Hall.
This paper is set up much differently than it is now—we no longer print poetry or fiction pieces on the website or in hard copies, nor do we have a Chuckles section—but some sections remain the same.
The editorial for Dec. 25, 1927, author unknown, is titled “The Purposes of Education” and focuses on the reasons the author believes it necessary to attain an education at an institution like what was then known as North Carolina College for Negroes.
“More than any other Americans, Negroes need to learn the essentials of good living,” the author claims.
“Otherwise, they cannot overcome their limitations of rights and opportunities … Negroes need education, of the kind that sets them on fire, and to be up and doing.”
It’s a bold statement, but not controversial for students already receiving post-secondary education. While some terminology and idea of what constitutes “good living” has changed, the overall message is still relevant.
The same cannot be said for the contents of the fact sheet following it. The need for “especially good railroad accommodations” is not as urgent as it once was, and the idea that the school provide typewriters and bookkeeping desks for each student is archaic, given the capabilities of a smartphone that can fit in a pants pocket.
Nevertheless, there is a certain charm to a story, accompanied by a pencil-drawn sketch, about a Miss N.C.C. who won her crown from selling $92 worth of Thanksgiving football game tickets.
My personal favorite, however, is the sports page’s coverage of the Christmas Day “OLDLINERS PLAY!!” postseason football game, with N.C.C. faculty squaring off against their North Carolina A&T counterparts.
Any football team captained by our founder (and left center) Dr. James E. Shepard is good enough for me. A special mention goes to then-Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Dr. Alfonso Elder (quarterback) and the school’s first athletics coach, Wilson V. Eagleson (left tackle). Eagleson’s wife, Frances Marshall Eagleson, was the school’s registrar from 1926–64; Eagleson Residence Hall is named for her.
The Campus Echo is an NCCU institution in and of itself. The paper has existed longer than the Hoey Administration Building (built in 1929), the vast majority of campus residence halls and all “Divine Nine” Greek-letter organizations.
It is an honor to lead such a preeminent publication with my co-editor- in-chief, Daniel Hargrove, and I excitedly look forward to what our beloved Echo will become.