Alabama State University
Former name
Lincoln Normal School of Marion (1867–1887)
Normal School for Colored Students (1887–1929)
State Teachers College (1929–1948)
Alabama State College for Negroes (1948–1954)
Alabama State College (1954–1969)
TypePublic historically black university
Established1867; 157 years ago (1867)
Academic affiliations
Endowment$111 million (2021)[1]
PresidentQuinton T. Ross Jr.
ProvostCarl Pettis
Location, ,
United States
CampusUrban, 172-acres[2]
NewspaperThe Hornet Tribune[3]
ColorsBlack and Old gold
NicknameHornets and Lady Hornets
Sporting affiliations

Alabama State University (ASU, Bama State, or Alabama State) is a public historically black university in Montgomery, Alabama. Founded in 1867, during the Reconstruction era, it was one of about 180 "normal schools" established by state governments in the 19th century to train teachers for the rapidly growing public common schools. It was one of 23 established to train African Americans to teach in segregated schools. Some of the 180 closed but most steadily expanded their role and became state colleges in the early 20th century and state universities in the late 20th century.[4] ASU is a member-school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.


See also: Alabama State University Historic District

Alabama State University was founded in 1873 as the Lincoln Normal School of Marion in Marion. In December 1874, the State Board accepted the transfer of title to the school after a legislative act was passed authorizing the state to fund a Normal School, and George N. Card was named president. Thus, in 1874, this predecessor of Alabama State University became America's first state-supported educational institution for blacks. This began ASU's history as a "teachers' college."[5]

The second president, William Burns Paterson, was appointed in 1878. He is honored as a founder of Alabama State University and was the president for 37 of the school's first 48 years. Paterson was instrumental in the move from Marion to Montgomery in 1887.[5]

In 1887, the university opened in its new location in Montgomery, but an Alabama State Supreme Court ruling forced the school to change its name; it was renamed the Normal School for Colored Students. The campus was chosen in 1889 although preparing the buildings at the site took a while longer.[6]

In the decades that followed, Lincoln Normal School became a junior college, and in 1928 became a full four-year institution. In 1929 it became State Teachers College, Alabama State College for Negroes in 1948, and Alabama State College in 1954. In 1969, the State Board of Education, then the governing body of the university, approved a name change; the institution became Alabama State University.[5]

The 1995 Knight vs. Alabama remedial decree transformed ASU into a comprehensive regional institution paving the way for two new undergraduate programs, four new graduate programs, diversity scholarship funding and endowment, funding to build a state-of-the art health sciences facility, and a facility renewal allocation to refurbish three existing buildings.[5]

WVAS-FM was launched on June 15, 1984, beaming 25,000 watts of power from the fifth floor of the Levi Watkins Learning Center for two years before moving to its current location at Thomas Kilby Hall. Today, WVAS has grown to 80,000 watts and has a listenership that spans 18 counties, reaching a total population of more than 651,000. In recent years, the station has also begun streaming its broadcast via the Web, connecting a global audience to the university.[5]

The early 1990s witnessed the beginning of WAPR-FM (Alabama Public Radio), which Alabama State University and Troy University, both of which already held station licenses of their own, cooperated with the University of Alabama in building and operating. WAPR-FM 88.3—Selma's signal reaches the region known colloquially as the Black Belt, about 13 counties in the west central and central parts of Alabama, including the city of Montgomery.[5]

In 2021, ASU received a $24.7 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help Montgomery Public Schools students better prepare for a higher education. This is the largest single grant in the history of the institution.[7]


Interim presidents excluded

  1. 1874–1878: George N. Card[8]
  2. 1878–1915: William Burns Paterson
  3. 1915–1920: John William Beverly
  4. 1920–1925: George Washington Trenholm[9]
  5. 1925–1961: Harper Councill Trenholm[10]
  6. 1962–1981: Levi Watkins Sr.[11]
  7. 1981–1983: Robert L. Randolph
  8. 1983–1991: Leon Howard
  9. 1991–1994: Clifford C. Baker
  10. 1994–2000: William Hamilton Harris
  11. 2001–2008: Joe A. Lee
  12. 2008–2012: William Hamilton Harris
  13. 2012: Joseph H. Silver Sr.
  14. 2014–2016: Gwendolyn Boyd
  15. 2017–present: Quinton T. Ross Jr.


ASU has eight degree-granting colleges, schools, or divisions:

Alabama State offers 47 degree programs including 31 bachelor's, 11 master's, two Education Specialist and three doctoral programs, Doctorate in Educational Leadership, Policy, and Law, Clinical Doctorate in Physical Therapy, and a Doctorate in Microbiology. In addition, the university offers the W.E.B. DuBois Honors Program for undergraduate students who meet the above average performance criteria.[12]

Due to Alabama State offering only bachelor's degree in Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, the university established a dual degree engineering partnership with Auburn University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) that gives qualified ASU students automatic admissions into Auburn and UAB undergraduate engineering programs. ASU undergraduate students who successfully complete the program will receive a STEM related bachelor's degree from ASU and an engineering bachelor's degree from Auburn or UAB in approximately five years.[13][14]

Alabama State is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, the National Association of Schools of Music, the National Association of Directors of Teacher Education and Certification, the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy, the Commission of Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM, the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST), and the Council of Social Work Education.[15]

Research centers



ASU campus building

ASU's urban, 172-acre (0.70 km2) campus has Georgian-style red-brick classroom buildings and architecturally contemporary structures. ASU is home to the state-of-the-art 7,400-seat academic and sports facility the ASU Acadome; the Levi Watkins Learning Center, a five-story brick structure with more than 267,000 volumes; the state-of-the-art John L. Buskey Health Sciences Center which is an 80,000 square foot (7,400 m2) facility which houses classrooms, offices, an interdisciplinary clinic, three therapeutic rehabilitation labs, a state-of-the-art Gross Anatomy Lab, Laboratory for the Analysis of Human Motion (LAHM), a Women's Health/Cardiopulmonary lab, and a health sciences computer lab; and WVAS-FM 90.7, the 80,000-watt, university operated public radio station.[18]

Student life

Alabama State University has nearly 6,000 students from more than 40 states and over 20 countries. Approximately 40% of the student body come from outside Alabama.[19]


The Hornets outdoor track team celebrating a victory at the 2023 SWAC Outdoor Track & Field Championship

Main article: Alabama State Hornets and Lady Hornets

The Alabama State University Department of Athletics currently sponsors men's intercollegiate football, baseball, basketball, golf, tennis, track and cheerleading, along with women's intercollegiate basketball, soccer, softball, bowling, tennis, track, volleyball, golf and cheerleading. Sports teams participate in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I (FCS – Football Championship Subdivision for football) in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), which it joined in 1982. The university's colors are black and old gold and their athletic teams are known as the Hornets.[20]

The Mighty Marching Hornets

The Mighty Marching Hornets and Sensational Stingettes

Alabama State's marching band is officially known as "The Mighty Marching Hornets". The band has been invited several times to the Honda Battle of the Bands and has been nationally recognized. The Mighty Marching Hornets were featured in the documentary series, Bama State Style, which followed the lives of the students in the band. In 2016, The Mighty Marching Hornets made an appearance in Ang Lee's film Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk.[21] In 2017, the band's 2012 halftime performance at the Magic City Classic garnered over three million views on YouTube. The band performed in the 2019 Rose Parade in Pasadena, California on New Year's Day. In 2023, Alabama State became the first HBCU to host the annual Honda Battle of the Bands. The band is traditionally led by four or five drum majors. The band performs at most football games, all SWAC basketball home games, and other special events.

The featured auxiliary is "The Sensational Stingettes", a danceline that debuted in 1977. They were invited to appear in the "Give It 2 U" music video and a live televised performance with artists Robin Thicke, Kendrick Lamar, and 2 Chainz.[22][23] Also, they were shown in Beyonce's Netflix special "HΘMΣCΘMING: A film by Beyonce".[24]

The most recently added auxiliary is "The Honey-Beez", a danceline composed of only plus-size young women that debuted in 2004.[25] In 2017, they were selected to showcase their talents and compete on America's Got Talent.[26] In 2020, they starred in a docuseries on Snapchat.[27]

The Bama State Collegians

The Bama State Collegians is a big band jazz orchestra sponsored by Alabama State University. In the 1930s, the ensemble was directed by noted jazz trumpeter Erskine Hawkins, an inductee of both the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame and the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. After moving to New York City, the Collegians, directed by Hawkins, became the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra and produced a string of national hit records, including "Tuxedo Junction", "After Hours", "Tippin' In" and others. The song "Tuxedo Junction", with its recordings by Hawkins and by the Glenn Miller Orchestra, became one of the anthems of World War II. In 2011, Hawkins' story of and his start in the Bama State Collegians was the subject of a Florida State University Film School MFA thesis film, The Collegians, written and directed by Alabama State University alumnus Bryan Lewis.[28][29][30]

Student publications

Students are served by two media publications, The Hornet Tribune (student newspaper) and The Hornet (the student yearbook).[31][32]

See also

Notable alumni

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
2 Chainz American rapper, played basketball for two seasons while attending
Ralph Abernathy 1950 civil rights leader and minister
Reggie Barlow 1996 former professional football wide receiver and current head football coach at Virginia State University
Brad Baxter former football running back who played 6 seasons in the NFL for the New York Jets (1989–1995)
Clarence Carter 1960 soul singer and musician, best known for his hits "Strokin'", "Patches", and "Snatching It Back" [33]
London "Deelishis" Charles winner of reality show Flavor of Love 2
Michael Coe 2007 NFL defensive back
James Daniel 1974 tight ends coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers
Steven Daniel 1993 actor and comedian
Fred Gray attorney who represented Rosa Parks during the Montgomery bus boycott
Erskine Hawkins jazz musician, composer of "Tuxedo Junction"
Tarvaris Jackson 2006 professional football player, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks [34]
Terren Jones 2012 NFL offensive lineman
Lil Yachty vocalist
Kevin Loder 1981 former NBA player for the Kansas City Kings and San Diego Clippers
Manny Martin former NFL defensive back for the Buffalo Bills during the 1990s
Tangi Miller 1993 actress with The WB's Felicity
Travis Pearson former Arena Football League player
Eddie Robinson former linebacker, who played 11 seasons in the NFL for the Houston Oilers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, and the Buffalo Bills; started for the Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV
Quinton Ross member of the Alabama Senate, representing the 26th District
Eugene Sawyer 1956 politician and businessman, Mayor of Chicago 1987–1989 [35]
Dr. Fred Shuttlesworth civil rights leader and minister, co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Council
Rickey Smiley 1992 comedian and actor
Felix Stallings, Jr. electronica artist, producer, and DJ Felix da housecat
Troy Stubbs Member of the Alabama House of Representatives [36]
Jessie Tompkins 1998 former nationally ranking athlete in track and field; head coach for the East Montgomery Track Club; first African America student to challenge the State of Alabama’s White-only, race-based scholarships [37][38]
Fred Wesley jazz and funk trombonist, best known for his work with James Brown in the 1960s and 1970s
Jesse White 37th Secretary of State of Illinois
Doug Williams 1995 comedian and actor
Marcus Winn former linebacker for the Edmonton Eskimos and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League

Notable faculty

Name Department Notability Reference
Harold Franklin First black student at Auburn University [39]
Alvin Holmes alumnus and member of the Alabama State Legislature, representing the 78th District (Montgomery) [40]
Jo Ann Robinson leader in the Montgomery, Alabama Women's Political Council and the Montgomery bus boycott
Tonea Stewart Theatre actress, playwright, and Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts [41]
Josephine Turpin Washington Mathematics 1886 Howard University alumnus, early writer on civil rights topics [42]
Sheyann Webb-Christburg Social Studies notable civil rights activist, author of Selma Lord Selma! and Dr. Martin Luther King's proclaimed "smallest freedom fighter"

Further reading


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Alabama State University". The Encyclopedia of Alabama. July 28, 2008.
  3. ^ "The Hornet Tribune – Official student newspaper of Alabama State University".
  4. ^ Christine Ogren, The American State Normal School: 'An Instrument of Great Good' (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005) pp. 1-5, 213-235; online.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "About ASU | Alabama State University".
  6. ^ Sherer, Robert G. (1930). "William Burns Paterson: "Pioneer as well as Apostle of Negro Education in Alabama". The Alabama Historical Quarterly. 36 (2: summer 1974): 142–143. Retrieved July 10, 2017.
  7. ^ "ASU gets record $24.7 million federal grant to prep MPS students for higher education".
  8. ^ "President George N. Card".
  9. ^ Fultz, Michael (2020). "An African American Educator in the Context of His Time: George Washington Trenholm, 1871–1925". Alabama Review. 73 (3): 246–267. doi:10.1353/ala.2020.0023. S2CID 221468807.
  10. ^ "Trenholm, Harper Councill". July 3, 2017.
  11. ^ "President Levi Watkins, Sr. Collection - President Levi Watkins Collection | Alabama State University - Library".
  12. ^ "W.E.B. DuBois Honors Program : Alabama State University". Archived from the original on December 11, 2015. Retrieved March 8, 2016.
  13. ^ "Programs | Alabama State University".
  14. ^ "Agreement to establish a dual-degree program of study between Alabama State University and the School of Engineering at the University of Alabama at Birmingham" (PDF). Retrieved February 22, 2022.
  15. ^ Alabama State University. "Accreditation". Archived from the original on August 10, 2015. Retrieved October 21, 2013.
  16. ^ "Research & Centers | Alabama State University".
  17. ^ "The National Center for the Study of Civil Rights and African American Culture". Retrieved February 16, 2022.
  18. ^ "Our Campus | Alabama State University".
  19. ^ "Enrollment Maps | Alabama State University".
  20. ^ "Alabama State University Colors | NCAA Colors". U.S. Team Colors. Retrieved February 16, 2022.
  21. ^ "Mighty Marching Hornets Band Appears in New Movie : Alabama State University". Archived from the original on July 1, 2016. Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  22. ^ "BAND BIO of the Mighty Marching Hornets Band Boosters, Alabama State University". Archived from the original on July 16, 2015. Retrieved April 6, 2015.
  23. ^ Sutton, Amber (August 25, 2013). "Watch Robin Thicke's new video featuring the Alabama State University Stingettes". Retrieved December 17, 2017.
  24. ^ "Opinion | Beyoncé's "Homecoming" is an ode to black culture — and HBCU greatness". NBC News. April 19, 2019.
  25. ^ "Honeybeez History". March 13, 2013. Archived from the original on August 3, 2017. Retrieved June 29, 2021.
  26. ^ "ASU's Honey Beez to star on 'America's Got Talent'".
  27. ^ "Nationwide ASU Honey Beez Snapchat Docuseries Debuts April 25! | Alabama State University".
  28. ^ "Full Student Awards List | College of Motion Picture Arts". Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved January 28, 2017.
  29. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "The Collegians Trailer". YouTube.
  30. ^ "Facebook". Facebook. Retrieved February 16, 2022.
  31. ^ "The Hornet Tribune". Retrieved February 22, 2022.
  32. ^ "Student Life | Alabama State University". Retrieved February 16, 2022.
  33. ^ "Clarence Carter Biography, Songs, & Albums". AllMusic. Retrieved February 22, 2022.
  34. ^ "Tarvaris Jackson". Archived from the original on March 15, 2007. Retrieved April 16, 2007.
  35. ^ Wilkerson, Isabel (December 3, 1987). "Man in the News; A Calm Voice For Chicago: Eugene Sawyer Jr". The New York Times.
  36. ^ "About Troy". Troy Stubbs. Retrieved September 22, 2023.
  37. ^ "Double Reverse Scholarship program for whites becomes a test of preferences", by June Kronholtz, The Wall Street Journal, December 23, 1997
  38. ^ "CIR News: Legal Battles Against Reverse Discrimination".
  39. ^ "Auburn University's first Black student Harold Franklin gets master's degree at 86". The Washington Post. August 30, 2020. Retrieved February 16, 2022.
  40. ^ "Alabama State Legislature: Alabama House of Representatives- Alvin Holmes". Alabama State Legislature. Archived from the original on April 22, 2009. Retrieved July 18, 2009.
  41. ^ "Bio of Stewart, Tonea". AEI Speakers Bureau. Archived from the original on May 13, 2009. Retrieved July 18, 2009.
  42. ^ Penn, Irvine Garland (February 22, 1891). The Afro-American Press and Its Editors. Willey & Company. ISBN 9780598582683. Retrieved February 22, 2022 – via Google Books.

32°21′50″N 86°17′42″W / 32.364°N 86.295°W / 32.364; -86.295