L ivingstone College began as an educational institution for aspiring clergy in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (A.M.E. Zion) Church. In 1796, A.M.E Zion leaders realized that they must educate their clergy and three-quarters of a century later in 1875, the Twelfth Annual Session of the North Carolina Conference of the A.M.E. Zion Church, held at Zion Chapel in Concord, NC., they were successful in accomplishing that goal.
B y 1877, plans were complete for establishing a school under the leadership of Bishop James Walker Hood. The new school, a small house on seven acres of land, was donated by Rev. Thurber and was called Zion Wesley Institute. It operated for two terms from 1879 to 1880 and from 1880 to 1881.
I ntermittently, Bishop Hood had been instrumental in nurturing a promising young man named Joseph Charles Price, who had been a student in his wife's Sunday School in New Bern, NC. Bishop Hood followed Price's matriculation through Shaw and Lincoln Universities, invited his membership into the North Carolina Conference as an ordained deacon and elder and later appealed to him to become an agent for Zion Wesley Institute at an Ecumenical Conference in London, England. During the trip, the Reverend Dr. Price raised $10,000 and upon his return in 1882 was elected to the presidency of what then had developed into Zion Wesley College.
A lso in 1882, neighboring Salisburians contributed $1,000 to the College and extended an invitation to the trustees to relocate to their community. The trustees accepted the invitation and purchased 40 acres of land and a house located in the Old Delta Grove from James A. Gray for $4,600, thereby accommodating future growth and development of the institution.
I n 1887, at the recommendation of Price and by an 1887 Act of the
North Carolina Legislature, the name Zion Wesley College as changed to Livingstone College in honor
of David Livingstone, British Christian missionary, philanthropist and African explorer.