James Edward Shepard was born in 1875 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Shepard graduated from Shaw University. He was founder and president the National Religious Training School and Chautauqua, a small religious institution established in Durham, North Carolina in 1910. Shepard shorten the name of the institution to the National Training School. The focus of the school was changed to teacher education and liberal education. By 1923, Shepard secured state funding to become a training school for black teachers. In 1925, the school was renamed North Carolina College for Negroes and became the first state supported liberal arts college for black students in the nation. Shepard served as president for nearly 40 years, he died in 1947. The school was later renamed North Carolina College and in 1969 became North Carolina Central University, a constituent school of the University of North Carolina system. The campus of North Carolina Central University is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
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