EducationFlorida Memorial University

One of the oldest academic centers in Florida…

One of the oldest academic centers in Florida, the university was founded in 1879 as the Florida Baptist Institute in Live Oak, Florida. Soon after, the American Baptist society gave its full support, and the first regular school year began in 1880.

The Reverend J. L. A. Fish was its first president. Despite a promising start, racial tensions soon cast a shadow over the Institute. In April 1892, after unknown persons fired shots into one of the school’s buildings, then-President Rev. Matthew Gilbert and other staff members fled Live Oak for Jacksonville, where he founded the Florida Baptist Academy in the basement of Bethel Baptist Church. They began holding classes in May 1892, with Sarah Ann Blocker as the main instructor. The school in Live Oak, however, continued to operate even after this splintering.

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