Isaac Lane

Isaac Lane, age 82 (Photo in the public domain)

Although the salary of ordained minister Isaac Lane (1834–1937), who became a bishop in the Colored (now Christian) Methodist Episcopal Church, was so low that he had to raise cotton to supplement his income and support his family (including eleven children [some sources say twelve]), he managed to save $9,000, which he used to establish Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee. (Some sources say he purchased the land for $240.) Born a slave in Madison County, Tennessee, he was the son of a slave named Rachel and Cullen Lane, the white owner of the plantation on which she worked. He was permitted to attend church services held by white Methodists, and he learned to read and write on his own. He became a minister in the newly founded CME Church during the time of Emancipation and Reconstruction and, as bishop, built churches throughout Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. The Lane School started as an institution for educating freedmen, but later attained college status. Isaac died in 1937 at the age of 103.

To honor Lane College and Isaac's contributions to education, the United States in 1945 christened a Merchant Marine Victory ship the S.S. Lane Victory, which, after serving in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, was restored and, in 1990, was opened to visitors as a National Historic Landmark in San Pedro, California.

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Last modified: 29 February 2020