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James Edward Shepard (November 3, 1875 – October 6, 1947) was an American pharmacist, civil servant and educator, the founder of what became the North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina. He first established it as a private school for religious training in 1910 but adapted it as a school for teachers. He had a network of private supporters, including northern white philanthropists such as Olivia Slocum Sage of New York. He served as the school's 1st president for nearly 40 years. By 1923, he secured state funding for it as a normal school, to continue the training of black teachers. After programs and classes were added to create a four-year curriculum, in 1925 it was renamed North Carolina College for Negroes, becoming the first liberal arts college in the nation for black students to be state-funded.
Shepard was born in Raleigh, NC, the son of Rev. Augustus and Harriet Whitted Shepard. He received undergraduate and professional training at Shaw University, from which he graduated in 1894. The following year, he married Annie Day Robinson. They had three daughters, all now deceased: Marjorie A. Shepard (1896-1992) of Durham and Annie Day Shepard Smith (1899-1977) of New Bern, North Carolina and Marion (1902-1903). Smith had two daughters, Annie Day Smith Donaldson and Carolyn Marie Smith Green; both daughters had children, and Green has grandchildren.
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