Clinton College was one of many schools established by the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church during Reconstruction years, to help eradicate illiteracy among freedmen. The College has operated continuously for 120 years. In 1894, Presiding Elder Nero A. Crockett and Rev. W.M. Robinson founded Clinton Institute and named it for Bishop Caleb Isom Clinton, the Palmetto Conference presiding bishop at the time.
Incorporated as Clinton Normal and Industrial Institute on June 22, 1909, the school was authorized to grant state teacher certificates. By the late 1940’s, the College attracted 225 students per year and owned approximately 19 acres, several buildings, and equipment valued at several million dollars. Under Dr. Sallie V. Moreland, who retired in 1994 after 47 years of stellar service, the school charter was amended to create Clinton Junior College. When Dr. Cynthia L. McCullough Russell assumed leadership, the school prepared for accreditation, attained during the tenure of Dr. Elaine Johnson Copeland.