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Alcorn, CHA linked in ceremony

U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., addresses the cadets of Chamberlain-Hunt Academy and students of Alcorn State University Wednesday in Oakland Memorial Chapel in Lorman.(Brian Loden The Vicksburg Post)

[10/28/04]LORMAN It was a day for historical connections.

Chamberlain-Hunt Academy celebrated its 125th anniversary Wednesday morning in the building where one of its namesakes started an early Mississippi college.

“Chamberlain-Hunt and Alcorn State University are inexorably linked,” keynote speaker U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., said at the podium in Oakland Memorial Chapel on the Alcorn State campus.

Their intertwined history goes back to when Alcorn State was Oakland College, a Presbyterian university founded by Jeremiah Chamberlain. The chapel was the first building on the campus. Oakland College awarded the first bachelor’s degree in Mississippi, said Maj. Michael Herrin, chaplain at Chamberlain-Hunt.

After the Civil War, Mississippi Presbyterians sold the building to the state, which put the first land-grant university for blacks on the site in 1871.

Today, Alcorn is a 3,000-student university with its main campus on rolling hills in rural Claiborne County.

The $40,000 that Mississippi Presbyterians received from the sale of Oakland College was used to start Chamberlain-Hunt, located northeast of Alcorn State in Port Gibson, the county seat. The “Hunt” came from David Hunt, who was a benefactor to Oakland College. He gave about $9 million in today’s money to the school, Herrin said.

Chamberlain-Hunt opened in 1879 and is now home to about 150 cadets.

It was also fitting that Lott gave his address at the same podium where one of his predecessors, former Sen. Hiram Revels, was installed as Alcorn State University’s first president. Revels gave up his Senate seat to take the Alcorn State job.

When he served as majority leader, Lott said he led the push to hang Revels’ portrait in the U.S. Capitol.

Lott told the cadets that the challenges of their military education would prove beneficial.

“Take a good look at these young men. These are the future leaders of America,” Lott said.

Chamberlain-Hunt is the only military academy to also be Christian school. Lott said faith would also be important to overcoming future hurdles and pointed to his Baptist upbringing as an example.

“I don’t understand how you can be a military leader and face the challenges you face and not have a strong faith,” he said.