Daniel Payne College

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Daniel Payne College was an institution of higher learning operated by the African Methodist Episcopal Church from 1880 to 1977. The school was named in honor of the noted African American educator Daniel Payne, a native of Charleston, South Carolina who served as official historiographer of the AME church and became the first African-American to serve as a college president shortly after the Civil War at Wilberforce University in Ohio.

The school was called the Payne Institute until 1903, when it was changed to Payne University, then to Greater Payne University in 1926 and, finally, to Daniel Payne College in 1940. In 1922 it relocated from Selma to Birmingham were it was located at 6415 Washington Boulevard in the Groveland section of Woodlawn. Airport expansion and Interstate highway construction forced the school to relocate.

In November 1970 the school purchased a 158-acre parcel on Sayreton Road along Blue Creek west of U.S. Highway 78 and just north of the Birmingham city limits. The new campus allowed enrollment to double to 600 students.

The Sayreton Road campus sustained over $1.3 million in damage from a tornado on April 4, 1977. On a shaky financial footing already, the school was forced to close its doors. A lawsuit brought by former students alleging mismanagement of funds by the administration set a precedent that students have a vested interest in the operation of their schools.

Sayreton Road was subsequently renamed Daniel Payne Drive in honor of the former college. Some campus buildings still remain, including the headquarters for the 9th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and a Jefferson Metrocare health clinic.


Notable alumni