“Virtually forgotten today, Joseph C. Price was once internationally celebrated…. W. E. B. Du Bois, who as a college student heard Price lecture in Boston’s Tremont Temple, pronounced him ‘the acknowledged orator of his day.’…. After Price’s untimely death at the age of 39, Frederick Douglass lamented that ‘the race has lost its ablest advocate.’…
“In 1881… a speaking tour of Britain… raised the $11,000 necessary to found Zion Wesley College (later Livingstone) in Salisbury, North Carolina. He served as president until his death of Bright’s disease in 1893….
— From “Lift Every Voice: African American Oratory, 1787-1900,” edited by Philip S. Foner and Robert J. Branham (1998)
“Du Bois and others felt that it was the leadership vacuum created by Price’s death into which Booker T. Washington moved, and that had he lived the influence and reputation of Price and of Livingstone College would have been as great as or greater than that achieved by Washington and Tuskegee.”
— From “Dictionary of North Carolina Biography,” edited by William S. Powell (Price entry by John Inscoe)
Price was significantly less accommodationist than Washington, as suggested by this incisive observation in 1890: “The Confederacy surrendered its sword at Appomattox, but did not there surrender its convictions.”
Pictured: A pinback button marking Livingstone’s first 25 years. “A Price Builder”? Maybe a donor.