The McDonogh Network envisions the holistic success of black and African American students and alumni of Lafayette College.
The McDonogh Network is named after David K. McDonogh who came to Lafayette College in 1838 as a slave. His owner, John McDonogh, a Louisiana planter, sent him to become educated to travel with a group of freed slaves to Liberia to serve as a missionary. However, David McDonogh wanted to become a physician. In 1844, he became the College’s first black graduate; and went on to attend classes at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. Although the institution would not grant him a degree, his classmates treated him as a physician. He later received a degree from Eclectic Medical College of New York. He became the first black staff member of the New York Hospital and New York Eye and Ear Infirmary. After his death, the McDonough Memorial Hospital was named in his honor and opened as New York City’s first hospital to admit physicians and patients without discrimination by race. In 2008, Lafayette honored David McDonogh through the sculpture Transcendence, which stands adjacent to David Bishop Skillman Library, which was created by Melvin Edwards to honor McDonogh.
The McDonogh Network is an active and engaged networking organization consisting of multiple generations of Lafayette College’s Black alumni and students. The network seeks to support current members’ emotional, social, and academic growth through mentorship, communications, events, and activities. The organization will serve as a forum to uplift Black voices, support racial equity, and foster a healthy Lafayette experience.
To build powerful networks, promote mentoring, create initiatives, and execute programs that connect us to each other, our communities, current black students and faculty, and Lafayette College. Our areas of focus include:
Black students at Lafayette in the late 1960s, like their counterparts at other institutions, became actively engaged in the civil rights movement, aligning with national causes and seeking to promote justice and equity on their college campuses. In 1969, Lafayette’s Association of Black Collegians (ABC) presented a document called the “Black Manifesto” to the College’s administration outlining five demands that they believed would enhance the quality of life and learning on campus. Among the five demands was the call for a “Black House,” and this resulted in the early 1970s establishment of a Black Cultural Center, originally placed at the east end of the Quad.
When the planning for a new student center began in 1988, it was decided that the “Black House” and the Delta Upsilon fraternity would both have to be removed. In 1989, the Black House moved to its current location of 101 McCartney Street. The building was renovated and rededicated in 1999 as the David A. Portlock Black Cultural Center, named for the first African American administrator at Lafayette College who served as dean from 1970 until his death in 1996. Portlock was known as the principal advocate for the black student population during this era. The Portlock Center has served as Lafayette’s only official cultural center since its establishment in the 1970s.