black germany

Heidelberg University and the Heidelberg Center for American Studies

Hat tip: Black German Cultural Society, Inc.

Heidelberg University and the Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA) are proud to announce the creation of a new fellowship honoring James W.C. Pennington, an African American churchman, abolitionist, and pacifist who holds a special place in the history of our university.

Born into slavery in Maryland, Pennington escaped bondage at the age of eighteen. He learned to read and write, and in 1834, became the first black man to attend classes at Yale. Four years later, Pennington was ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church. His devotion to black freedom and nonviolence made Pennington a cherished member of the international peace and abolitionist movements.

At the 1849 World Peace Congress in Paris, Pennington befriended the Heidelberg theologian Friedrich Carové. Impressed with Pennington’s courage and eloquence, Carové persuaded Heidelberg University to confer an honorary doctorate of divinity on the black minister. It was the first time that an African American received this greatest of all academic honors from a European university.

On the occasion of its six-hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary, Heidelberg University wishes to pay tribute to James W.C. Pennington’s extraordinary life, thereby strengthening the ties that bind Germany’s oldest university to the United States and the international academic community.”

For more information on the fellowship and the current call for donations visit:

For the HCA itself, see:

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