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Kwame Nkrumah: His Studies Abroad and Return Home

Kwame Nkrumah arrived in Philadelphia in 1935 to begin undergraduate study at Lincoln University. After completing a bachelor’s degree in Sociology magna cum laude, Lincoln admitted him to its Theological Seminary in 1939 for an additional degree in Sacred Theology. It was at this time, however, that Nkrumah began concurrent enrollment at the University of Pennsylvania in the hopes of acquiring multiple degrees simultaneously. Supporting himself through a precarious combination of scholarships and seasonal work in the segregated shipyards of Philadelphia, Nkrumah regularly visited Harlem and Washington to speak on anti-imperial themes in churches, on street corners, at political rallies, and in classrooms. In so doing, he managed to meet such prominent intellectuals of the African diaspora as C.L.R. James, Nnamdi Azikiwe, and Marcus Garvey. As he later recalled in his autobiography, “Life would have been so much easier if I could have devoted all my time to study. As things were, however, I was always in need of money.”

After receiving his Master’s degree from Penn’s Graduate School of Education in 1941, Nkrumah began another program of study with the Department of Philosophy on a University Scholarship. His advisor Glen Morrow noted that he satisfied the requirements for a Master’s degree in Philosophy in 1943, and by 1944 it appears that he had passed his preliminary exams for a doctorate. He then began working as a Twi instructor for Zelig Harris in a new African Studies graduate group, and in 1945 he left the United States for London and Manchester. He finally returned to the Gold Coast in 1947.

Source: https://archives.upenn.edu/exhibits/penn-history/nkrumah

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