Hampton University
Former names
Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (1868–1930)
Hampton Institute (1930–1984)
Motto"The Standard of Excellence, An Education for Life"
TypePrivate historically black research university
EstablishedSeptember 17, 1861; 162 years ago (1861-09-17)
Academic affiliations
Endowment$280.6 million (2020)[1]
ChancellorJoAnn Haysbert
PresidentDarrell K. Williams
ProvostJoAnn Haysbert
Students3,516 (Fall 2021)[2]
Undergraduates3,063 (Fall 2021)[2]
Postgraduates453 (Fall 2021)[2]

37°01′21″N 76°20′05″W / 37.02250°N 76.33472°W / 37.02250; -76.33472
CampusSuburban, 314 acres (127 ha)
NewspaperThe Hampton Script [3]
Colors   Blue & white
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division I (FCS) – CAA

Hampton University is a private, historically black, research university in Hampton, Virginia. Founded in 1868 as Hampton Agricultural and Industrial School, it was established by Black and White leaders of the American Missionary Association after the American Civil War to provide education to freedmen. The campus houses the Hampton University Museum, which is the oldest museum of the African diaspora in the United States and the oldest museum in the commonwealth of Virginia.[4] First led by former Union General Samuel Chapman Armstrong,[5] Hampton University's main campus is located on 314 acres in Hampton, Virginia, on the banks of the Hampton River.

The university offers 90 programs, including 50 bachelor's degree programs, 25 master's degree programs and nine doctoral programs. The university has a satellite campus in Virginia Beach and also has online offerings. Hampton University is home to 16 research centers, including the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute, the largest free-standing facility of its kind in the world. Hampton University is classified among "R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity."[6]


The campus was founded on the grounds of "Little Scotland", a former plantation in Elizabeth City County that is located on the Hampton River. It overlooked Hampton Roads and was not far from Fortress Monroe and the Grand Contraband Camp, that gathered formerly enslaved men and women who sought refuge with Union forces in the South during the first year of the war. Their facilities represented freedom.

In 1861 the American Missionary Association (AMA) responded to the former slaves' need for education and hired Mary Smith Peake as its first teacher at the camp. She had already secretly been teaching slaves and free blacks in the area despite the state's legal prohibition. She first taught for the AMA on September 17, 1861, and was said to gather her pupils under a large oak. In 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation was read here—the first place in the Confederate states. From then on the big tree was called the Emancipation Oak. The tree, now a symbol of both the university and of the city, survives as part of the designated National Historic Landmark District at Hampton University.

The Hampton Agricultural and Industrial School, later called the Hampton Institute, was founded in 1868 after the war by the biracial leadership of the American Missionary Association, who were chiefly Congregational and Presbyterian ministers. It was first led by former Union General Samuel Chapman Armstrong.[7] Among the school's famous alumni is Dr. Booker T. Washington, an educator who was hired as the first principal at the Tuskegee Institute, which he developed for decades.

Civil War

During the American Civil War (1861–1865), Union-held Fortress Monroe in southeastern Virginia at the mouth of Hampton Roads became a gathering point and safe haven of sorts for fugitive slaves. The commander, General Benjamin F. Butler, determined they were "contraband of war", to protect them from being returned to slaveholders, who clamored to reclaim them. As numerous individuals sought freedom behind Union lines, the Army arranged for the construction of the Grand Contraband Camp nearby, from materials reclaimed from the ruins of Hampton, which had been burned by the retreating Confederate Army. This area was later called "Slabtown."[8][9]

Hampton University traces its roots to Mary S. Peake, who began in 1861 with outdoor classes for freedmen, whom she taught under what is now the landmark Emancipation Oak in the nearby area of Elizabeth City County. In 1863 the newly issued Emancipation Proclamation was read to a gathering under the historic tree there.[8][10]

After the War: teaching teachers

The Hampton Institute, 1898
An 1899 class in mathematical geography

After the War, a normal school (teacher training school) was formalized in 1868, with former Union brevet Brigadier General Samuel C. Armstrong (1839–1893) as its first principal. The new school was established on the grounds of a former plantation named "Little Scotland", which had a view of Hampton Roads. The original school buildings fronted the Hampton River. Legally chartered in 1870 as a land grant school, it was first known as Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute.

Typical of historically black colleges, Hampton received much of its financial support in the years following the Civil War from the American Missionary Association (whose black and white leaders represented the Congregational and Presbyterian churches), other church groups, and former officers and soldiers of the Union Army. One of the many Civil War veterans who gave substantial sums to the school was General William Jackson Palmer, a Union cavalry commander from Philadelphia. He later built the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad, and founded Colorado Springs, Colorado. As the Civil War began in 1861, although his Quaker upbringing made Palmer abhor violence, his passion to see the slaves freed compelled him to enter the war. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery in 1894. (The current Palmer Hall on the campus is named in his honor.)

Students in an 1899 bricklaying class

Unlike the wealthy Palmer, Sam Armstrong was the son of a missionary to the Sandwich Islands (which later became the U.S. state of Hawaii). He also had dreams for the betterment of the freedmen. He patterned his new school after the model of his father, who had overseen the teaching of reading, writing and arithmetic to the Polynesians. He wanted to teach the skills necessary for blacks to be self-supporting in the impoverished South. Under his guidance, a Hampton-style education became well known as an education that combined cultural uplift with moral and manual training. Armstrong said it was an education that encompassed "the head, the heart, and the hands."

At the close of its first decade, the school reported a total admission in those ten years of 927 students, with 277 graduates, all but 17 of whom had become teachers. Many of them had bought land and established themselves in homes; many were farming as well as teaching; some had gone into business. Only a very small proportion failed to do well. By another 10 years, there had been over 600 graduates. In 1888, of the 537 still alive, three-fourths were teaching, and about half as many undergraduates were also teaching. It was estimated that 15,000 children in community schools were being taught by Hampton's students and alumni that year.[11]

After Armstrong's death, Hampton's leaders continued to develop a highly successful external relations program that forged a network of devoted supporters. By 1900, Hampton was the wealthiest school serving African Americans, largely due to its success in development and fundraising.[12]

Hampton also had the only library school in the United States for educating black librarians.[13] The Hampton Institute Library School opened in 1925 and through its Negro Teacher-Librarian Program (NTLTP) trained and issued professional degrees to 183 black librarians.[13] The library school closed in 1939.[13]

Booker T. Washington: spreading the educational work

Further information: Booker T. Washington

Among Hampton's earliest students was Booker T. Washington, who arrived from West Virginia in 1872 at the age of 16. He worked his way through Hampton, and then went on to attend Wayland Seminary in Washington, D.C. After graduation, he returned to Hampton and became a teacher. Upon Armstrong's recommendation to the founder of a small school in Tuskegee, Alabama, established six years before, in 1881 the 25-year-old Washington went there to strengthen it and develop it to the status of a normal school, one recognized as being able to produce qualified teachers.

This new institution eventually became Tuskegee University. Embracing much of Armstrong's philosophy, Washington built Tuskegee into a substantial school and became nationally famous as an educator, orator, and fund-raiser as well. He collaborated with the philanthropist Julius Rosenwald in the early 20th century to create a model for rural black schools; Rosenwald established a fund that matched monies raised by communities to build more than 5,000 schools for rural black children, mostly in the South. In 1888 Washington recruited his Hampton classmate Charles W. Greene[14] to Tuskegee to lead the Agriculture Department. Together they enticed George Washington Carver to the Tuskegee Agriculture faculty upon his graduation with a master's degree from Iowa State University in 1896.

Carver provided such technical strength in agriculture that, in 1900, Washington assigned Greene to establish a demonstration of black business capability and economic independence off-campus in Tuskegee. This project, entirely black-owned, comprised 4,000 lots of real estate and was formally established and designated Greenwood in 1901, as a demonstration for black-owned business and residential districts in every city in the nation with a significant black population. After Washington visited Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1905 and addressed a large gathering there, the Oklahomans followed the Tuskegee model and named Tulsa's black-owned and operated district "Greenwood" in 1906.

Native Americans

In 1878, Hampton established a formal education program for Native Americans to accommodate men who had been held as prisoners of war. In 1875 at the end of the American Indian Wars, the United States Army sent seventy-two warriors from the Cheyenne, Kiowa, Comanche and Caddo Nations, to imprisonment and exile in St. Augustine, Florida. Essentially they were used as hostages to persuade their peoples in the West to keep peace. Lieutenant Richard Henry Pratt supervised them at Fort Marion and began to arrange for their education in the English language and American culture.

St. Augustine was attracting numerous visitors from the North as it became known as a winter resort. Many became interested in the Native Americans held at Fort Marion and volunteered as teachers. They also provided the men with art supplies. Some of the men created what is now known as ledger art in this period. Some of the resulting works (including by David Pendleton Oakerhater) are held by the Smithsonian Institution.

At the end of the warriors' incarceration, Pratt convinced seventeen of the younger men to enroll at Hampton Institute for additional education.[15] He also recruited additional Native American students: a total of seventy Native Americans, young men and women from various tribes, mostly from the Plains rather than the acculturated tribes of Virginia, joined that first class. Because Virginia's First Families sometimes boasted of their Native American heritage through Pocahontas, some supporters hoped that the Native American students would help locals to accept the institute's black students. The black students were also supposed to help "civilize" the Native American students to current American society, and the Native Americans to "uplift the Negro[es]."[16][17]

The Red Moon was a theatrical show featuring a fictionalized version of the school.

In 1923, in the face of growing controversy over racial mingling, after the former Confederate states had disenfranchised blacks and imposed Jim Crow, the Native American program ended. Native Americans stopped sending their boys to the school after some employers fired Native American men because they had been educated with blacks. The program's final director resigned because she could not prevent "amalgamation" between the Native American girls and black boys.[17]

Name changes, expansion, and community

Sunset at Hampton University waterfront
Hampton University Monroe Memorial Church

Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute became simply Hampton Institute in 1930. In 1931 the George P. Phenix School for all age groups was opened there under principal Ian Ross. A new nurses' training school was attached to the Dixie Hospital, with Nina Gage as director.[18] In 1945 the Austrian-American psychologist, art educator, and author of the influential text book Creative and Mental Growth[19] Viktor Lowenfeld joined the Hampton faculty as an assistant professor of industrial arts and eventually became chair of the Art Department. By 1971 the university offered 42 evening classes in programs including "Educational Psychology", "Introduction to Oral Communication", "Modern Mathematics", and "Playwriting", among others.[20] At the time, the tuition cost for these courses was $30 per semester hour.[20]

In 1951, a 20-year-old student Benjamin Leroy Wigfall of Richmond, VA, became the youngest person ever to have a painting purchased by the Virginia Museum of the Fine Arts for $30 (~$352.00 in 2023). The abstract painting was titled "Chimneys."[21]

With the addition of departments and graduate programs, it became Hampton University in 1984.[22] Originally located in Elizabeth City County, it was long-located in the Town of Phoebus, incorporated in 1900. Phoebus and Elizabeth City County were consolidated with the neighboring City of Hampton to form a much larger independent city in 1952. The City of Hampton uses the Emancipation Oak on its official seal. From 1960 to 1970, noted diplomat and educator Jerome H. Holland was president of the Hampton Institute.

The university and its leadership has also been met with criticism. In 2018, Hampton University students launched a protest calling for the administration to address several concerns they believed to be longstanding and urgent, including food quality, living conditions and the handling of sexual assault complaints. The university released a statement indicating that it was "moving forward" to address student concerns and issues.

In July 2020, philanthropist MacKenzie Scott donated $30 million (~$34.8 million in 2023) to Hampton. The donation is the largest single gift in Hampton's history.[23] Hampton's president has sole discretion on how funds will be used but has committed to consulting with other university leaders on the best way to allocate the generous donation.[24][23]

In June 2022, Dr. William R. Harvey retired as the 12th president of Hampton University after 43 years of service. He is the longest serving president in Hampton's history and one of the longest serving college presidents in the nation. He is succeeded by Darrell K. Williams who is a 1983 graduate of Hampton University.[25]



An aerial view of Hampton University

The campus contains several buildings that contribute to its National Historic Landmark district: Virginia-Cleveland Hall (freshman female dormitory, as well as former home to the school's two cafeterias), Wigwam building (home to administrative offices), Academy Building (administrative offices), Memorial Chapel (religious services) and the President's Mansion House.[39][40]

The original High School on the campus became Phenix Hall when Hampton City Public Schools opened a new Phenix High School in 1962. Phenix Hall was damaged in a minor fire on June 12, 2008.[41]

The Hampton University Museum was founded in 1868 and is the nation's oldest African-American museum. The museum contains over 9,000 pieces, some of which are highly acclaimed.[42]

Hampton University is home to 16 research centers.[43] The Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute is the largest free-standing facility of its kind in the world.[44]

The four libraries on campus are the William R. and Norma B. Harvey Library (main library), William H. Moses Jr. Architecture Library, the Music Library, and the Nursing Library.[45]

The Emancipation Oak was cited by the National Geographic Society as one of the 10 great trees in the world.

The waterfront campus is settled near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.

National Historic Landmark District

Hampton Institute
Hampton University is located in Virginia
Hampton University
Hampton University is located in the United States
Hampton University
LocationNW of jct. of U.S. 60 and the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, Hampton, Virginia
Coordinates37°01′13″N 76°35′40″W / 37.0203°N 76.5945°W / 37.0203; -76.5945
Area314 acres (127 ha)
Built1866 (1866)
ArchitectRichard Morris Hunt; Et al.
NRHP reference No.69000323[46]
VLR No.114-0006
Significant dates
Added to NRHPNovember 12, 1969
Designated NHLDMay 30, 1974[48]
Designated VLRSeptember 9, 1969[47]

A 15-acre (61,000 m2) portion of the campus along the Hampton River, including many of the older buildings, is a U.S. National Historic Landmark District. Buildings included are:

In addition, Cleveland Hall, Ogden, and the Administration building are also included in the district.[49]

The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969 and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1974.[50][49]

Student demographics

In 2023, nearly two-thirds of Hampton students were women and the other third men. Approximately 97% of them identified as Black and 20% were Virginia residents.[51] 68% of students receive need-based financial aid. The average need-based scholarship or grant awarded to first-year students at Hampton is $10,025.[52]


Hampton University has 10 accredited schools and colleges.[53]

As of 2020, Hampton offers 50 baccalaureate programs, 26 master's programs, seven doctoral programs, two professional programs, and ten associate/certificate programs.[56]

The Freddye T. Davy Honors College is a non-degree granting college that offers special learning opportunities and privileges to the most high-achieving undergraduates. To join the honors college, students must formally accept an invitation given by the college or directly apply for admissions into the college.[57]

Hampton University consistently ranks among the top ten HBCUs in the nation and is ranked in Tier 1 (#217) among "National Universities" by U.S. News & World Report.[58][59]

Hampton's student to faculty ratio is 10 to 1, which is better than the national university average of 18 to 1.[56][60]

Hampton is the first and only HBCU to have 100% control of a NASA Mission.[61]

The Alumni Factor named Hampton one of the seven best colleges in Virginia.[62]

Hampton University is classified as a selective admissions institution.[63]

Student activities


Main article: Hampton Pirates and Lady Pirates

Hampton University athletics logo

Hampton sports teams participate in NCAA Division I (FCS for football) in the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA). They joined in 2022 upon leaving the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and then later the Big South Conference. Hampton is one of three NCAA Division I HBCU institutions (along with Tennessee State University, in the Ohio Valley Conference and CAA rival North Carolina A&T) to not be a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference or Southwestern Athletic Conference.

In 2016, Hampton became the first and only HBCU to field a Division I men's lacrosse team. ESPN held a broadcast on campus preceding the inaugural game in Armstrong Stadium.[64][65]

Hampton is the only HBCU with a competitive sailing team.

In 2001, the Hampton basketball team won its first NCAA tournament game, when they beat Iowa State 58–57, in one of the largest upsets of all time. They were only the fourth fifteen-seed to upset a two-seed in the tournament's history. They returned to the tournament a year later, as well as in 2006, 2011, 2015 and 2016, having won their conference basketball tournament. Their NCAA tournament record is 2–6, including the play-in game.

The "Lady Pirates" basketball team has made trips to the NCAA tournament in 2000, 2003, 2004, 2010–2014, and 2017. In 1988, as a Division II school, the Lady Pirates won the NCAA Women's Division II Basketball Championship, defeating West Texas State. In 2011, as a number-13 seed, the Lady Pirates nearly upset Kentucky, but fell in overtime, 66–62. In 2015, the Lady Pirates played in the Women's NIT, where they defeated Drexel 45–42 in the opening round. However, in the second round, the team lost to West Virginia 57–39.

Cheerleaders heading towards the annual Military Appreciation Day football game

The Pirates won their conference title in football in 1997, shared the title 1998 and 2004, and won it again outright in 2005 and 2006. From 2004 to 2006, the team won three MEAC Championships and three SBN-Black College National Championships, and was ranked in the Division I FCS top 25 poll each year. The Pirates also sent five players to the NFL Combine in 2007, the most out of any FCS subdivision school for that year. They have also been dominant in tennis, winning the MEAC from 1996 to 1999, 2001–2003 and 2007 for the men, and 1998 and 2002–2004 for the women.

Major rivals include Norfolk State University, located across Hampton Roads in downtown Norfolk, and Howard University in Washington, D.C.

In 2019, Hampton revived their rivalry with Virginia Union University from Richmond, Virginia.

Student organizations

There are over 55 student organizations on campus in arts, athletics, community service, leadership, religion, and student government.[66]

"The Marching Force" marching band

Pirate athletics are supported by a plethora of groups, including "The Marching Force" Marching Band. The marching band has appeared at several notable events, including a Barack Obama Presidential Inauguration parade in Washington, DC. "The Force" was chosen out of a large pool of applicants to participate in the parade as the representative for the state of Virginia. "The Force" is complemented by the "Ebony Fire" all-women danceline, as well as "Silky", the flag team, and as of 2018, "Shimmering Sapphire Elegance", the majorette team.

Greek life

Hampton University has over 15 Greek letter organizations, including the National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations.

Notable alumni

This article's list of alumni may not follow Wikipedia's verifiability policy. Please improve this article by removing names that do not have independent reliable sources showing they merit inclusion in this article AND are alumni, or by incorporating the relevant publications into the body of the article through appropriate citations. (August 2023)


Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Robert S. Abbott 1896 Founder of The Chicago Defender and of the annual Bud Billiken Day Parade in Chicago
Frank D. Banks 1876 Led the effort to develop Bay Shore Beach on the Chesapeake Bay, which is considered the first resort for black vacationers in the South [67][68]
Robert Brokenburr 1906 Attorney; counsel and general manager for the Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company
Sashi Brown 1998 President of the Baltimore Ravens [69]
Percy Creuzot 1949 Founder of Creole restaurant chain Frenchy's Chicken in Houston, Texas [70]
Henry E. Hall 1896 Co-founder and president of Mammoth Life and Accident Insurance Company, which became the largest black-owned business in Kentucky and later merged with Atlanta Life [71]
Rashida Jones 2002 President of MSNBC; former Vice President of NBC News and MSNBC [72]
Keith Leaphart 1996 Entrepreneur, philanthropist and physician
Charles Phillips 1986 Former chairman and CEO of Infor; former President of Oracle Corporation
John H. Sengstacke 1934 owner and publisher of the largest chain of black newspapers in the U.S.; founder of the National Newspaper Publishers Association; Presidential Citizens Medal
Charles Shearer 1880 Built the historic Shearer Cottage, the first inn for black vacationers on Martha's Vineyard [73]
Percy Sutton Co-founder of Inner City Broadcasting Corporation; investor in the New York Amsterdam News and the Apollo Theater; producer of It's Showtime at the Apollo
Thomas W. Young President and general manager of the Norfolk Journal and Guide; took over the newspaper after the passing of his father, who bought the publication in 1910


Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Thomas Fountain Blue 1888 Early trainer of black librarians; first black American to head a public library; Hampton's Library School was a continuation of his training program [74]
St. Clair Drake 1931 Sociologist and anthropologist; created the first African and African American studies program at Stanford University
Luther H. Foster Jr. 1934 Fourth president of Tuskegee University and president of the United Negro College Fund
Martha Louise Morrow Foxx Blind educator; principal of the Mississippi School for the Blind
Charles W. Green 1875 Headed Tuskegee University's Agriculture Department; developed the Greenwood Business District in Tuskegee, which served as a model for the Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma [75]
Freeman A. Hrabowski III 1969 President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Heinz Award
William C. Hunter Dean emeritus of the Tippie College of Business at University of Iowa; former senior vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago [76]
Dr. Wilmer Leon Political scientist and associate professor in the Political Science Department at Howard University; host of talk show Urban View on Sirius XM Radio [77]
Constance Hill Marteena 1933 Librarian and president of the North Carolina Negro Library Association
Robert Russa Moton 1890 President Emeritus of Tuskegee University; namesake of the Tuskegee Airmen training site Moton Field; advisor to five U.S. presidents; Spingarn Medal; Harmon Award
Kimberly Oliver 2006 National Teacher of the Year [78]
Hugh R. Page 1977 Professor of theology and Africana Studies at the University of Notre Dame [79]
James Solomon Russell Founder, president and chaplain of Saint Paul's College (Virginia); Harmon Award
Booker T. Washington 1875 Educator, author, including his autobiography Up from Slavery, orator, first president of Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University), founder of the National Business League, prominent civil rights and racial “uplift” advocate, and adviser to several presidents of the United States. Between 1890 and 1915, Washington was the dominant leader in the African American community.
Charles H. Williams 1909 Co-founder of the CIAA; founder of Hampton's Terpsichorean Dance Company; chaired Hampton's Physical Education Department [80]
William T. B. Williams 1888 Field agent for the Jeanes Fund and Slater Fund and U.S. government consultant; reports helped establish hundreds of training schools; Spingarn Medal
Stephen J. Wright 1934 Seventh president of Fisk University and president of the United Negro College Fund

Entertainment, media, and the arts

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
John T. Biggers Harlem Renaissance muralist and founder of the Art Department at Texas Southern University
Leslie Garland Bolling 1918 Early 20th-century wood carver
Gizelle Bryant 1992 Television personality on The Real Housewives of Potomac
Spider Burks 1946 One of the first African-American disc jockeys in St. Louis [81]
Ruth E. Carter 1982 Has star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; Academy Award in costume design for Black Panther [82]
Spencer Christian Former weatherman for Good Morning America, 1986–1998
Brian Custer 1993 Sports broadcaster; ESPN SportsCenter anchor and Showtime Championship Boxing host [83]
Doctur Dot 2012 Rapper, member of EARTHGANG and co-founder of Spillage Village
DJ Babey Drew 2003 Grammy Award-winning record producer and disc jockey
DJ Envy 1999 Radio Hall of Fame; disc jockey and host of The Breakfast Club
Beverly Gooden 2005 Writer and activist
Biff Henderson Stage manager and personality on the Late Show with David Letterman
Weldon Irvine 1965 Composer, playwright, poet, pianist, organist, and keyboardist; wrote over 500 songs, including "To Be Young, Gifted and Black"
J.I.D Rapper, signed to Dreamville Records in 2017
DJ Tay James 2009 A&R and disc jockey for Justin Bieber [84]
Rashida Jones 2002 First African-American to lead a major cable news network (MSNBC) [85]
Javicia Leslie 2009 Actress; Batwoman, God Friended Me, Always a Bridesmaid, The Family Business; first Black actor to wear the Batsuit
Samella Lewis 1945 Painter and art historian; founder of the International Review of African American Art; first black American female to earn a Ph.D. in fine art and art history
Dorothy Maynor 1933 Concert singer; first black American to sing at a U.S. presidential inauguration; founder of The Harlem School of the Arts; first black Metropolitan Opera board member
Orpheus McAdoo 1876 Minstrel show impresario; toured Britain, South Africa and Australia [86]
Che Pope 1992 Grammy Award-winning record producer; co-founder and CEO of WRKSHP [87]
Robi Reed 1982 Casting director; first black American to win an Emmy Award for casting; The Tuskegee Airmen, Harlem Nights, In Living Color
MC Ride Musician; best known for being the lead vocalist of Death Grips
Clarissa Sligh 1961 Photographer, book artist; lead plaintiff in the Virginia school desegregation case Thompson v County School Board of Arlington County
Brandon Mychal Smith Actor
Nikkolas Smith Author, illustrator, film artist; painted the King Chad mural in Disneyland
Wanda Sykes 1986 Emmy Award-winning actress, comedian and writer
Johnny Venus 2012 Rapper, member of EARTHGANG and co-founder of Spillage Village
Roslyn Walker 1966 Curator of African Art, Dallas Museum of Art; former director of the National Museum of African Art
Emil Wilbekin 1989 Black & gay rights activist; founder of Native Son Now; former Afropunk Festival chief content officer and editor-in-chief of Vibe and Giant magazines
A. S. (Doc) Young 1941 First black publicist in Hollywood; executive editor of the Los Angeles Sentinel; sports editor for Jet and Ebony magazines [88]

Politics and government

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Orison Rudolph Aggrey 1946 Former U.S. Ambassador to The Gambia, Senegal and Romania
Ebenezer Ako-Adjei 1942 One of the Big Six leaders in the Gold Coast’s struggle for independence from Britain; served as Ghana’s first Minister for Trade and Labor, first Minister for Justice and first Minister for Foreign Affairs
Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini 1996 Prime minister of Eswatini; CEO of Nedbank Eswatini and CEO of MTN Eswatini
Allyson Kay Duncan 1972 4th Circuit US Circuit Court Judge [89]
George Washington Fields 1878 First black graduate of Cornell Law School; member of the Virginia House of Delegates
Frankie Muse Freeman 1936 Civil rights attorney; first woman appointed to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; Spingarn Medal
Vanessa D. Gilmore 1977 Federal Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas [90]
Theodore Theopolis Jones II 1965 Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals, New York [91]
Tishaura Jones 1994 First Black female mayor of St. Louis [92]
Mbiyu Koinange 1931 Kenya Minister of State, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister of Education; cabinet of Kenya's first president Jomo Kenyatta
Gloria Gary Lawlah 1960 Secretary of Aging for the State of Maryland [93]
Patrick A. Lewis 1966 Antigua and Barbuda Ambassador to the United Nations and to the United States [94]
Spencer Overton 1990 President of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies; election scholar, George Washington University Law School [95]
Douglas Palmer 1973 Mayor of Trenton, New Jersey
Henry E. Parker 1965 Connecticut State Treasurer (1975–1986)
Robin R. Sanders 1977 Former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of the Congo and Nigeria
Gregory M. Sleet US District Court Judge for the United States District Court for the District of Delaware
Sylvia Trent-Adams 1987 First African-American nurse to serve as Surgeon General of the United States [96]
Charles Wesley Turnbull 1958 Former governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands
W. Carlton Weddington Member of Ohio House of Representatives
Ivory Lee Young Jr. 1986 City Council member with the Atlanta City Council District 3, Atlanta, Georgia 2002–2018 [97]
Stephanie Young 2006 Director of African American Outreach, Associate Director of Communications, The White House [98]

Science, health care, technology, engineering and mathematics

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
William Warrick Cardozo 1923 Early sickle cell anemia researcher
William Claytor 1900 Pioneering African-American mathematician; chaired the Mathematics Department at Howard University [99]
Moogega Cooper 2006 Engineer; Lead of Planetary Protection for the Mars 2020 Mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Christine Darden 1962 NASA mathematician and aeronautical engineer; supersonic flight and sonic boom researcher featured in the book Hidden Figures; Congressional Gold Medal
Mary Jackson 1942 NASA human computer and its first black female engineer; namesake of the Mary W. Jackson NASA Headquarters in Washington; Congressional Gold Medal [100]
Ayana Jordan 2001 Addiction psychiatrist, physician, and immunopathologist; professor at Yale School of Medicine, Yale University, and NYU Langone Health; elected to the Board of Trustees of the American Psychiatric Association [101]
Flemmie Pansy Kittrell 1928 Pioneer in nutrition and child development; first woman of color to earn a Ph.D. in nutrition; instrumental in creating the Head Start program; namesake of Hampton's Flemmie Kittrell Hall
Tiara Moore 2013 Environmental ecologist and founder of Black in Marine Science [102]
Susan La Flesche Picotte 1886 First Native American physician
Devin G. Walker 1998 Dark matter researcher; theoretical particle physicist at Dartmouth College; first black American to earn a Ph.D. in physics from Harvard University
James West Did not graduate Inventor, primarily of microphones [103]

Sociology and humanities

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Clara Byrd Baker Educator, civic leader, and suffragette [104]
Septima Poinsette Clark 1946 "Queen mother" of the Civil Rights Movement; developed citizenship classes that enabled black Southerners to register and vote; SCLC board; American Book Award
Augustus M. Hodges 1874 Newspaper editor, journalist, poet, novelist, and political organizer [105][106]
Alberta Williams King 1924 Mother of Martin Luther King Jr.
Elisabeth Omilami Chief Executive Officer of Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless
William Henry Sheppard 1883 Missionary, ethnographer and explorer; first Westerner to enter the Kingdom of Kuba; reported on the Belgian atrocities in the Congo; pioneering African art collector; Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in England
Mychal Denzel Smith 2008 Writer at The Nation, television commentator and author; Kirkus Prize
Thomas Calhoun Walker 1883 Attorney and land ownership advocate; purchased land and sold it back to local farmers; Gloucester County, Virginia led the nation in per capita black farm ownership in 1930
Will West Long 1904 Cherokee mask maker, translator, and cultural historian [107]


Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Chris Baker 2008 Former NFL defensive tackle [108]
Darian Barnes Former NFL running back
Johnnie Barnes Former NFL wide receiver
Jamal Brooks 1999 Former NFL linebacker [109]
James Carter Award-winning track athlete
Mo'ne Davis 2023 Participant in the 2014 Little League World Series and 2014 AP Women's Athlete of the Year; began playing for Hampton softball in the 2020 season [110][111]
Marcus Dixon Current CFL defensive tackle; also played in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Jets [112]
Reggie Doss Former NFL defensive end
Justin Durant 2007 Current NFL linebacker, Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions
Kenrick Ellis Current NFL defensive tackle, New York Jets [113]
Devin Green 2005 Former NBA player [114]
Isaac Hilton Former NFL defensive end [115]
Rick Mahorn 1980 Former NBA player, Washington Bullets, Detroit Pistons, New Jersey Nets; WNBA Detroit Shock Head Coach [116]
Jerome Mathis Former NFL wide receiver [117]
Nevin McCaskill Former NFL offensive lineman [118]
Francena McCorory 2010 Track and field, two-time Olympic gold medalist, NCAA 400m three-time champion [119]
Marquay McDaniel 2007 CFL football player, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Chidi Okezie 2015 Track and field Olympian representing Nigeria at the 2020 Olympics [120]
Dick Price 1957 Former head football coach at Norfolk State University, 1974–1983; former head coach of track team and athletic director at Norfolk State [121]
Zuriel Smith 2002 Former NFL wide receiver and return specialist [122]
Cordell Taylor Former NFL defensive back [123]
Terrence Warren Former NFL wide receiver [124]
Kellie Wells Track and field Olympic athlete; 100m hurdle bronze medalist, 2012

See also


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Further reading