Our Inclusive Mission
Diversity is in our DNA.
Since its founding, Berea College has believed in the power of education to transform students and employees from all walks of life. Berea’s inclusive past emanates from a foundational belief of founder Rev. John G. Fee that the inclusive Christian notion of impartial love could create a remarkable learning and living community in a slaveholding state before the Civil War. An ardent abolitionist, Fee chose the motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth.” That’s been our motto since 1855.
Our Inclusive Past
Berea College is where blacks and whites, women and men have been educated together since 1855, in direct response to society's most vexing challenges: inclusion, access, equity, learning across difference, and justice.
Berea has always sought to address some of the country's most vexing challenges, and in so doing, it has faced often fierce opposition throughout it history, as well as great acclaim and admiration. Despite these challenges, Berea College has continued in its mission provided by its founders—to educate students inclusively and equitably in the name justice and impartial love. It continues to model its motto from Acts that “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth.” Berea College was the first interracial, co-educational college in the South.
Our Inclusive Present
Throughout the past 40 years, dedicated efforts to recruit, enroll and retain a diverse student population, combined with increased hiring of African Americans in faculty and staff positions, have resulted in a campus community where nearly half of the students identify as people of color.
Berea College strives to provide a continued learning experiences, support and activism.
We can and must do more. Our history demands it.
Every student at Berea College is part of a unique and inclusive mission that reflects equal opportunity with the obvious exception that Berea excludes applicants who come from families who could afford to pay for a high-quality education. Berea, perhaps more than any other institution, is a place of grace, making decisions to serve those who are deserving of educational opportunity, which remains the best way to change trajectories of students of low income and high potential. In the continuing spirit of impartial love, Berea College teaches love of the mind, the heart, the self and others.
A Diverse Experience
It's important that we continue the legacy of the South's first interracial and co-educational college
Build brighter futures in the region
Our students come from 45 states, one U.S. Territory and 70 countries.
Equity and Inclusion
Diversity is in our DNA. Many former and current students will tell you their experience with diversity at Berea shaped them in several ways. It has made them better students, leaders, and people.
The Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education and the College pay for faculty and staff to participate, and even allows partners and spouses to attend space permitting. It also sponsors similar experiences for students.
The Civil Rights Tour includes a week of travel to various locations associated with the Civil Rights movement, including stops in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Along the way, participants toured Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birth home, attended church service at Faith Chapel in Birmingham, and visited Civil Rights institutes and museums in Birmingham, Montgomery, Selma, and Jackson. The tour also featured a special stop at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the site of the Selma to Montgomery Marches.
Carter G. Woodson, who is often called “the father of black history”, was a 1903 Berea College graduate. The College therefore celebrates Woodson's life and contributions to education through a center in his namesake.
The Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education fosters communication about Berea’s Great Commitment:
“To assert the kinship of all people and provide interracial education with a particular emphasis on understanding and equality among blacks and whites as a foundation for building community among all peoples of the earth.”
We promote social and cultural change and exchange that underscores our institutional motto:
“God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth” (Acts 17:26).
The Black Cultural Center provides services that support the needs of African American people at Berea College. We do this through co-curricular programs, leadership development, intercultural/interracial understanding opportunities, academic excellence strategies, and a range of other experiences.
The bell hooks center is an inclusive space where historically underrepresented students, including but not limited to women, LGBTQPIA+, and sex and gender non-conforming students, can come to be as they are, outside of social scripts. We curate programs, collaborations, and events that affirm these students’ sense of self and belonging—on campus and in the world. The center is named for bell hooks, who was Distinguished Professor in Residence in Appalachian Studies at Berea until her death in 2021.