by Lisa Y. Henderson
Born free in Perquimans County in 1835, Hugh Cale worked at Fort Hatteras and on Roanoke Island during the Civil War. In 1867, he moved to Elizabeth City where he worked as a merchant and held a host of offices including county commissioner. He was one of thirteen African Americans to serve in the state legislature in 1876, the first of his four terms. In 1882, Cale, an active A.M.E. Zion layman, was appointed a trustee of Zion Wesley Institute in Salisbury, which in 1885 became Livingstone College. He was among the initial group of nine trustees of the North Carolina Agricultural and Mechanical College for the Colored Race (now North Carolina A. & T. State University) in Greensboro and served in that position from 1891 to 1899. He was a delegate to the Republican national convention of 1896.
In 1891, during his last legislative term, Cale introduced House Bill 383 to establish “Elizabeth City Colored Normal School” for the education of black teachers. Now known as Elizabeth City State University, the institution has honored Cale with a scholarship in his name. He died in 1910.
Adapted from http://www.ncmarkers.com. Photo of Cale courtesy of Museum of the Albemarle.