Byrd Prillerman was a well-known African American educator and the former president of West Virginia Collegiate Institute (West Virgina State College).
Prillerman earned a bachelor’s degree in science from Knoxville College in 1889, a master’s degree in arts from Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pa., in 1894, and a degree in literature from Selma University in 1916. He was able to obtain a certificate as a first-grade teacher. To improve his literary credentials, he enrolled at Knoxville College on September 3, 1883, and graduated two years later.
When he returned to Charleston, he was hired as a teacher in the public schools and promoted to assistant principal. Recognizing the need for higher education for African-Americans in West Virginia, he approached Governor A. B. Fleming in 1890 and obtained the establishment of the West Virginia Colored Institute in 1891.
In 1892, Dr. Prillerman was hired as the principal’s first assistant. The West Virginia Collegiate Institute, which he led as president for ten years, was founded in 1862 by a federal statute requiring equal educational facilities for black children. It was not established as a State school for Negroes until March 17, 1891, in response to a legislative act passed in 1890 providing separate schools for Negroes.