A historically black university in Missouri is celebrating the 150th anniversary of its founding soon after the end of the Civil War.

The Jefferson City News Tribune reports that two black students began their studies in Jefferson City in September of 1866. The event was celebrated Thursday during a ceremony.

Soldiers in a black infantry unit from Missouri decided to start the school and pledged money while they were in Texas, waiting to get out of the Army after the Civil War's end. The black soldiers had begun to learn how to read and write during the war, with help from their white officers.

Just 19 years before the school started, Missouri lawmakers had said it was illegal to teach slaves and other blacks how to read and write.