Jackson State University
Jackson State University seal.png
Former name
Natchez Seminary (1877–1883)
Jackson College (1883–1940)
Mississippi Negro Training School (1940–1944)
Jackson College for Negro Teachers (1944–1967)
Jackson State College (1967–1974)
Motto"Challenging Minds, Changing Lives"
TypePublic historically black university
EstablishedOctober 23, 1877; 144 years ago (1877-10-23)
Academic affiliations
Sea-grant, Space-grant
Endowment$60 million (2019)[1]
PresidentThomas Hudson[2]
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students7,020 (fall 2019)[3]
Undergraduates5,152 (fall 2019)
Postgraduates1,868 (fall 2019)

32°17′46″N 090°12′28″W / 32.29611°N 90.20778°W / 32.29611; -90.20778Coordinates: 32°17′46″N 090°12′28″W / 32.29611°N 90.20778°W / 32.29611; -90.20778
NewspaperThe Blue & White Flash [4]
Colors Navy Blue  and  White [5]
Sporting affiliations
MascotBengal Tiger
Jackson State University logo.png

Jackson State University (Jackson State or JSU) is a public historically Black university in Jackson, Mississippi. It is one of the largest HBCUs in the United States and the fourth largest university in Mississippi in terms of student enrollment.[6] The university is a member of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and classified among "R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity".[7] Jackson State University's athletic teams, the Tigers, participate in NCAA Division I athletics as a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). The university is also the home of the Sonic Boom of the South, a marching band founded in the 1940s.[8] Their accompanying danceline, the Prancing J-Settes, are well known for their unique style of dance, known as J-Setting.


Jackson College in 1889
Jackson College in 1889

Jackson State University developed from Natchez Seminary, founded October 23, 1877, in Natchez, Mississippi. The seminary was affiliated with the American Baptist Home Mission Society of New York, who established it "for the moral, religious, and intellectual improvement of Christian leaders of the colored people of Mississippi and the neighboring states".[9][10] In 1883, the school changed its name to Jackson College and moved from Natchez to a site in Jackson, the capital. Today that site serves as the campus of Millsaps College.[11]

Jackson College moved to its current location early in the 20th century, where it developed into a full state university.[11]

In 1934, during the Great Depression, The Baptist Society withdrew financial support. The school became a state-supported public institution in 1940, known as the Mississippi Negro Training School. The name has since been changed to express development: Jackson College for Negro Teachers (1944). After desegregation, Jackson State College (1967); with the addition of graduate programs and expanded curriculum, Jackson State University (1974).[12]

1970 student killings

Main article: Jackson State killings

Many students at Jackson State College became active in the civil rights movement. Work to gain integrated practice and social justice continued after civil rights legislation was passed in the mid-1960s.

During an on-campus protest on May 14, 1970, two students were killed by police gunfire.[13] An additional 12 students were injured by gunfire during the clash.[14] A dormitory still bears the bullet marks fired on that day.


Ayer Hall on main campus
Ayer Hall on main campus

The main campus contains over 50 academic and administrative buildings on 245 acres (0.99 km2). It is located at 1400 John R. Lynch Street between Prentiss and Dalton Streets.

Ayer Hall was constructed in 1903 and is the oldest structure on the main campus. It was named in honor of the first president of the institution, Charles Ayer. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. Green-Gibb Pedestrian Walkway was named in honor of the two young men who died in the Jackson State shooting in 1970. As a result of the landmark "Ayers Settlement" in 2002, the university, along with the other two public HBCUs in the state, has completed extensive renovations and upgrades to campus.[15]

Jackson State has satellite campuses throughout the Jackson Metropolitan area:

Organization and administration


The board of trustees is the constitutional governing body of the Mississippi State Institutions of Higher Learning.[16] This body appoints the President of the university. There are 575 faculty and 1,431 staff, of which 54% are tenured, teaching approximately 7,000 undergraduate and graduate students.[17]

JSU presidents

Interim presidents excluded

  1. 1877–1894: Dr. Charles Ayer
  2. 1894–1911: Dr. Luther G. Barrett
  3. 1911–1927: Dr. Zachary T. Hubert
  4. 1927–1940: Dr. B. Baldwin Dansby
  5. 1940–1967: Dr. Jacob L. Reddix
  6. 1967–1984: Dr. John A. Peoples, Jr.
  7. 1984–1991: Dr. James A. Hefner
  8. 1992–1999: Dr. James E. Lyons Sr.
  9. 2000–2010: Dr. Ronald Mason, Jr.
  10. 2011–2016: Dr. Carolyn W. Meyers
  11. 2017–2020: Dr. William B. Bynum[18][19]
  12. 2020–present: Thomas Hudson, JD[2]


Academic rankings
U.S. News & World Report[22]293-381
Washington Monthly[23]32[20]

JSU colleges and schools include:

Teaching and learning

In 2015, JSU became the first university in Mississippi approved by the legislature to establish a School of Public Health which is housed under the College of Health Sciences.[24][25] JSU is the only university in Mississippi to earn two consecutive "Apple Distinguished School" distinctions. Apple Inc. biennially acknowledges schools that uniquely incorporate technology into its curriculum.[26] Since 2012, Jackson State University has provided all first-time, full-time freshmen brand new iPads to increase technology usage on campus.[27] JSU is the first and only HBCU in Mississippi to support a bachelor's and master's level engineering program.[28] JSU is one of only two universities in Mississippi with a comprehensive meteorology undergraduate level degree program. The W.E.B. Du Bois – Maria Luisa Alvarez Harvey Honors College is a selective interdisciplinary college at the university that provides a unique academic experience for the most high-achieving undergraduate students.[29]

Academic Centers

Military Science

Tiger Battalion, the university's Army ROTC program is the host US Army ROTC program for Belhaven University, Delta State University, Hinds Community College, Millsaps College, Mississippi College, Mississippi College School of Law, Mississippi Valley State University, Tougaloo College, and University of Mississippi Medical Center's School of Nursing. Air Force Detachment 006 is the Air Force ROTC Component for the Jackson metropolitan area. Hosted at Jackson State, it also serves students from Belhaven University, Millsaps College, Mississippi College and Tougaloo College.


Main article: Jackson State Tigers

Jackson State is a member of the Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Currently, JSU fields teams in basketball, track and field, cross country, baseball, softball, golf, tennis, soccer, bowling, volleyball, and football. The university's mascot is the Tiger, and the teams are sometimes referred to as the "Blue Bengals."

Official athletics logo
Official athletics logo

The Tiger men's football team has a heralded history, winning and sharing 16 SWAC titles, most recent in 2021.[30] Its most famous alumni includes Pro Football Hall of Famers Lem Barney, Jackie Slater and Walter Payton, and former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith.

JSU participates in a number of notable football games with rival colleges. These include:

The Sonic Boom of the South at halftime in Veterans Memorial Stadium
The Sonic Boom of the South at halftime in Veterans Memorial Stadium

Sonic Boom of the South

Main article: Sonic Boom of the South

The marching band began in the 1940s at what was then Jackson State College, under the directorship of Frederick D. Hall, who had directed a band at the college as early as the 1920s, in addition to the chorus and orchestra. It was initially made up of students from Jackson College and Lanier High School.[34] Founded as the Jackson State University Marching Band, the name "Sonic Boom of the South" was adopted by the school in 1971, after having been suggested by band members.[34] The first full-time band director, William W. Davis, was appointed in 1948, replacing Charles Saulsburg, who had been director since 1947.[34] Davis had previously played trumpet in Cab Calloway's band, and Calloway's musical style and showmanship influenced Davis's conceptualization of the marching band.[34] The band at this time had around 20 members, increasing to 88 in 1963.[35] Davis retired as director in 1971, but remained the chief arranger for the band.[34] He was replaced by Harold J. Haughton.[34] Haughton was instrumental in the creation of the Prancing J-Settes, the band's accompanying danceline.

Student life

Student body

As of fall 2017, 75% of Jackson State's student community was from Mississippi, with the majority from Hinds County and Madison County. The top three feeder states were Illinois (419 students), Louisiana (227), and Tennessee (192). China accounted for the highest number of international students on campus. 90% of students identified as Black, 6% identified as white, and 4% identified with various race categories. 34% of students were male, and 66% of students were female.[36]

Student organizations

Jackson State University offers over 100 registered student organizations. There are academic, residential, religious, Greek, and special interest groups established to serve the diverse interests of JSU's student community.[37] All student organizations are governed under the Student Affairs division.

National Pan Hellenic Council

Jackson State University's National Pan Hellenic Council (NPHC) includes all nine NPHC organizations:

Academic honor societies

Campus media

Jackson State is home to radio station WJSU-88.5 FM which plays jazz, gospel, news and public affairs programming. Jackson State University also owns a television station, W23BC known as JSUTV aired on Comcast. Jackson State also publishes the independent Blue and White Flash weekly student newspaper[38] and the Jacksonian magazine, which features news and highlights about the university, its students, and alumni.

Notable alumni


Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Charlotte P. Morris 1970 Interim president of Tuskegee University (2010; 2017–2018) [39]
Rod Paige 1955 First African-American to serve as Secretary of Education during President George W. Bush administration from 2001 to 2005, former head football coach at Jackson State from 1964 to 1968, and interim president of JSU (2016–present)
John Peoples 1950 President of JSU 1967–1984
Mary L. Smith 1957 11th president of Kentucky State University (1991 to 1998) [40]

Arts, TV and radio media, entertainment and music

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Demarco Morgan News anchor for KCBS-TV in Los Angeles
Percy Greene Founded the Jackson Advocate newspaper, Mississippi's oldest black-owned newspaper
Willie Norwood American Gospel singer, father and voice coach of R&B singers Brandy and Ray J
Sekou Smith Sportswriter, reported on the NBA
Tonea Stewart Actress and educator
Cassandra Wilson Jazz vocalist and musician
Vivian Brown American Television Meteorologist

Politics, law, and government

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Felicia C. Adams 1981 United States Attorney for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi from 2011 to 2017 [41]
Cornell William Brooks 1983 Yale trained lawyer that served as the 18th President and CEO of the NAACP
Emmett C. Burns, Jr. Member of the Maryland House of Delegates

from the 10th district

Robert G. Clark, Jr. Politician who was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives in 1967. He was the first African American elected to the Mississippi State Legislature since the Reconstruction era. [42]
Flossie Boyd-McIntyre 1960 Member North Carolina House of Representatives (1994–2002) [43]
Carlton W. Reeves 1986 Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi
Bennie G. Thompson 1973 Member U. S. House of Representatives (1993–present)
Tony Yarber 2004 Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi [44]
Dennis Deer 2nd district Cook County Commissioner [45]
Alvin O. Chambliss 1967 Lawyer, civil rights activist Historic Ayers v. Barbour case Thomas Adams. "Ayers Case, 112 S.Ct. 2727 (1992)." In The Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Civil Rights. Ed. Charles D. Lowery and John F. Marszalek. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2003.</ref>[46]


This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (November 2012) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Shasta Averyhardt 2008 Professional golfer, first African-American woman to qualify for the LPGA Tour since 2001, and its fourth African-American woman member in the 60-year history of the tour. [47]
Lem Barney NFL Hall of Fame cornerback with the Detroit Lions
Marcus Benard 2009 Current NFL linebacker
Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd Former Major League Baseball pitcher
Corey Bradford Former National Football League wide receiver
Robert Braddy Jackson State Tigers baseball player and coach [48]
Robert Brazile Pro Football Hall of Fame, 7-time NFL Pro Bowl outside linebacker with the Houston Oilers [49]
Wes Chamberlain Former Major League outfielder
Dave Clark Former Major League outfielder
Eddie Payton 1973 NFL kick returner; current Jackson State golf coach
Walter Payton 1975 Pro Football Hall of Fame running back; played entire career for the Chicago Bears
Archie "Gunslinger" Cooley 1962 Former head football coach at Mississippi Valley State University, University of Arkansas–Pine Bluff, Norfolk State University, and Paul Quinn College
Leslie "Speedy" Duncan Former 4-time NFL Pro-Bowl cornerback with the San Diego Chargers and Washington Redskins.
Marvin Freeman Former Major League pitcher
Cletis Gordon Former NFL defensive back
Lindsey Hunter Former NBA point guard. Won the 2001–02 championship with the Los Angeles Lakers and the 2003–04 championship with the Detroit Pistons. He was formerly the interim heach coach of the Phoenix Suns.
Harold Jackson Former Jackson State Head Football Coach; former NFL wide receiver; played majority career with the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots
Claudis James Former NFL player
Jaymar Johnson 2008 Current NFL wide receiver
Trey Johnson Current NBA/NBA Development League Player
Robert Kent Jackson State and professional quarterback
Ed Manning Drafted by the Baltimore Bullets in the eighth round (1st pick, 80th overall) of the 1967 NBA draft, father of Danny Manning
Picasso Nelson Gridiron football player
Audie Norris Former NBA Power forward and superstar for Winterthur FC Barcelona in the late 1980s
Donald Reese NFL Player; played for the Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints and the San Diego Chargers [50]
Purvis Short Former NBA small forward for the Golden State Warriors in the mid-1980s
Jackie Slater Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive tackle; played entire career with the Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams
Jimmy Smith Retired NFL wide receiver; played majority career with the Jacksonville Jaguars [51]
Karen Taylor Played professionally in Europe, mother of Stanley Johnson [52]
Michael Tinsley 2006 Track & Field sprinter [53]
Rickey Young 1975 retired NFL running back with the San Diego Chargers and Minnesota Vikings


Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Michelle Obama 2016 First African-American to serve as First Lady of the United States. She was given an honorary doctorate from Jackson State University where she served as the keynote speaker for its 2016 Spring undergraduate commencement ceremony [54]

See also


  1. ^ "JSU Audits | JSU Development Foundation". Jsums.edu. Retrieved 2020-02-22.
  2. ^ a b "Jackson State University | University Administration | Thomas K. Hudson".
  3. ^ http://www.jsums.edu/institutionalresearch/files/2019/10/2019-FTE-Enrollment.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  4. ^ http://sites.jsums.edu/jsuflash/[dead link]
  5. ^ "JSU Color Scheme | Style Guide". Jsums.edu. Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  6. ^ "Jackson State Becomes the 4th Largest HBCU by Enrollment". Hbculifestyle.com. 2015-09-28. Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  7. ^ "Carnegie Classifications Institution Lookup". carnegieclassifications.iu.edu. Center for Postsecondary Education. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  8. ^ "A Brief History and Chronology of the "Sonic Boom."". Sonic Boom of the South. Archived from the original on 1 July 2017. Retrieved 21 June 2018. Although Dr. F.D. Hall served as director of the band, chorus and orchestra in the 1920s, the marching band began in the 1940s consisting of college students and students from Lanier High School.
  9. ^ "Jackson State University | Unite Pre-Engineering Summer Program | JSU History". www.jsums.edu. Retrieved 2019-06-18.
  10. ^ "Jackson State University (1877- ) • BlackPast". BlackPast. 2010-01-07. Retrieved 2019-06-18.
  11. ^ a b Kendrick, Eva Walton. "Jackson State University". Mississippi Encyclopedia. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  12. ^ "JSU History". Jackson State University. Archived from the original on September 5, 2019. Retrieved January 14, 2022.
  13. ^ Wyckoff, Whitney Blair (3 May 2010). "Jackson State: A Tragedy Widely Forgotten". npr.org. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  14. ^ Roy Reed (May 16, 1970). "F.B.I. Investigating Killing Of 2 Negroes in Jackson: Two Negro Students Are Killed In Clash With Police in Jackson". The New York Times. p. 1. ProQuest 80023683.
  15. ^ cmaadmin (20 December 2015). "Jackson State Raises Non-Black Enrollment, Gains Control of Endowment".
  16. ^ "Mississippi Public Universities – The Board of Trustees -". www.mississippi.edu. Retrieved 2019-06-18.
  17. ^ "2017–18 Facts and Figures" (PDF).
  18. ^ Vicory, Justin. "Jackson State University president resigns after arrest in prostitution sting". www.msn.com. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  19. ^ "JSU president among 17 arrested in prostitution sting".
  20. ^ "2014 National Universities Rankings". Washington Monthly. n.d. Archived from the original on August 28, 2014. Retrieved May 25, 2015.
  21. ^ "Forbes America's Top Colleges List 2022". Forbes. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  22. ^ "2022-2023 Best National Universities". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  23. ^ "2022 National University Rankings". Washington Monthly. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  24. ^ "JSU to Create the 1st School of Public Health in Mississippi". Hbculifestyle.com. 2015-05-04. Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  25. ^ "Homepage".
  26. ^ "JSU blossoms again as Apple Distinguished School for 2015–2017 | Jackson State Newsroom". Jsumsnews.com. 2015-12-18. Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  27. ^ "JSU continues to promote innovation in education with iPad Initiative – Jackson State Newsroom". www.jsumsnews.com.
  28. ^ "Best Historically Black Engineering Colleges". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on 2016-05-13.
  29. ^ "W.E.B. Du Bois Honors College – Jackson State University". jsums.edu. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  30. ^ "Jackson State wins 2021 SWAC Championship". 5 December 2021.
  31. ^ "Record Jackson State homecoming crowd sees win over ASU". 16 October 2021.
  32. ^ "JSU has record crowd for Homecoming game". 17 October 2021.
  33. ^ "Jackson State football pulls away from Alcorn State 24-10 in first sellout of Deion Sanders era".
  34. ^ a b c d e f "A Brief History and Chronology of the 'Sonic Boom'". Sonic Boom of the South. Jackson State University. Archived from the original on July 1, 2017.
  35. ^ Grant, Richard (January 2017). "March to the Joyous Raucous Beat of the Sonic Boom of the South". Smithsonian. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  36. ^ "2017-2018 Facts and Figures" (PDF). JSU Department of Institutional Research, Planning, & Assessment.
  37. ^ "Student Organizations | Student Affairs". Jsums.edu. 2013-12-20. Retrieved 2016-04-09.
  38. ^ "JSU Student Publications". Issuu. Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  39. ^ "Leadership Change at Tuskegee University". The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. June 2, 2017. Retrieved June 19, 2018.
  40. ^ "Smith, ex-Kentucky State President, dies". The Park City Daily News. December 1, 2020. p. 3. Retrieved March 24, 2021.
  41. ^ "Meet the U.S. Attorney". Justice.gov. Archived from the original on 2017-02-08. Retrieved 2017-04-05.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  42. ^ Adderton, Donald (March 13, 2004). "Clark helped move state beyond prejudice". Columbian-Progress. p. 4.
  43. ^ "Flossie Boyd-McIntyre Biography". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 25 March 2014.
  44. ^ "Office of the Mayor". City of Jackson, Mississippi.
  45. ^ "About Commissioner Dennis Deer". Cook County Government. Archived from the original on September 28, 2020. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  46. ^ Encyclopedia https://www.encyclopedia.com/african-american-focus/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/chambliss-alvin-o
  47. ^ "Former Jackson State golfer Shasta Averyhardt qualifies of LPGA tour".
  48. ^ Flynn, Bryan. "Bob Braddy". Jackson Free Press.
  49. ^ "Robert Lorenzo Brazile". databaseFootball.com. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
  50. ^ "Donald Francis Reese". databaseFootball.com. Archived from the original on November 2, 2012. Retrieved November 10, 2012.
  51. ^ "Jimmy Lee Smith". Pro-Football-Reference.Com. Retrieved December 3, 2012.
  52. ^ Bruce Pascoe (7 November 2013). "Johnson fulfills mom's hoops wishes". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
  53. ^ "MICHAEL TINSLEY". Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  54. ^ Woman arrested for 1999 murder of Sheridan man | Wyoming News | trib.com