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Michigan Profile: Meet Stephen Morgan

Issue #3

Audio file

In the 1850s, there were not many colleges open to African Americans, but Olivet (ahl-ih-vet) College welcomed African-American students. Stephen Morgan went to Olivet College from 1900 to 1902. He and other students at Olivet College were some of the first African-American college athletes in the United States. 

The founder of Olivet College wanted men and women to learn together. He also promised that the school would be open to both African-American and white students. Olivet College is still open today. It is about 30 miles southwest of Lansing.

The idea of learning and working together applied to sports teams as well as the classroom. The football and baseball teams at Olivet College were integrated (in-teh-gray-ted). That means that both African-American and white students played on the same team. Most of the time, African-American players and white players were on different teams. 

Stephen Morgan was a very good athlete. He played both football and baseball for Olivet College. He was one of the first African-American students to play on a special football team in 1901. The team was made up of the best players from all over the state. 

Stephen Morgan used his time at Olivet College to teach others to see people for what they could do instead of judging them by the color of their skin.

This story was written with the help of Hannah Scott, Andrew Thompson, and Nikki Magie from Olivet College.
Photos are from the Olivet College Archives.

If you could be the first person to do something, what would it be?

photo of Stephen Morgan

A photo of Stephen Morgan.

olivet college football team photo from 1900

This is a picture of the Olivet College Football Team in 1900. Stephen Morgan is circled.