Jackson State University
Former name
Natchez Seminary
Jackson College
Mississippi Negro Training School
Jackson College for Negro Teachers
Jackson State College
MottoExcellentia academia investigatio et officium (Latin)
"Challenging Minds, Changing Lives"
Motto in English
"Academic excellence in research and service"
TypePublic historically black research university
EstablishedOctober 23, 1877; 146 years ago (1877-10-23)
Parent institution
Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning[1]
Academic affiliations
Endowment$60 million (2019)[2]
PresidentMarcus L. Thompson [3]
Academic staff
337 full time, 212 part time (fall 2022)[4]
Administrative staff
687 (fall 2020) [5]
Students6,564 (fall 2023)[6]
Undergraduates4,769 (fall 2023)[7]
Postgraduates1,795 (fall 2023)[8]
Location, ,
United States

32°17′46″N 090°12′28″W / 32.29611°N 90.20778°W / 32.29611; -90.20778
CampusMidsize city[9], 220 acres (0.89 km2)
NewspaperThe Blue & White Flash[10]
ColorsNavy blue and white[11]
Sporting affiliations
MascotBengal Tiger

Jackson State University (Jackson State or JSU) is a public historically black research 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. The university is a member of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and classified among "R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity".

Jackson State University's athletic teams, the Tigers, participate in NCAA Division I athletics as a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). Jackson State is also the home of the Sonic Boom of the South, a marching band founded in the 1940s. 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 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".[12][13] 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.[14]

Jackson College moved to its current location early in the 20th century, where it developed into a full state university.[14]

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).[15]

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.[16] An additional 12 students were injured by gunfire during the clash.[17] A dormitory still bears the bullet marks fired on that day.

The university drew national attention in 2023 when the faculty senate voted "no confidence" in university president Thomas Hudson. They alleged that he "repeatedly failed to respect shared governance, transparency, and accountability".[18] Shortly thereafter, the university's board of trustees placed Hudson on administrative leave and appointed Elayne Hayes-Anthony the acting president.[19]


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. Gibbs-Green 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.[20]

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.[21] This body appoints the president of the university. There are 575 faculty and 1,431 staff; 54% of the faculty are tenured, teaching approximately 7,000 undergraduate and graduate students.[22]


  1. 1877–1894: Charles Ayer
  2. 1894–1911: Luther G. Barrett
  3. 1911–1927: Zachary T. Hubert
  4. 1927–1940: Buddy Baldwin Dansby
  5. 1940–1967: Jacob L. Reddix
  6. 1967–1984: John A. Peoples Jr.
  7. 1984–1991: James A. Hefner
  8. 1992–1999: James E. Lyons Sr.
  9. 2000–2010: Ronald Mason Jr.[23]
  10. 2010: Leslie Burl McLemore (interim)[23]
  11. 2011–2016: Carolyn Meyers[23]
  12. 2016–2017: Rod Paige (interim)[23]
  13. 2017–2020: William B. Bynum[24][25]
  14. 2020–2023: Thomas Hudson[23][26]
  15. 2023: Elayne Hayes-Anthony (acting)
  16. 2023–present : Marcus L. Thompson[27]


Academic rankings
U.S. News & World Report[28]395 (tie) of 395
Washington Monthly[29]148 of 442

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.[30][31] JSU is the only university in Mississippi to earn two consecutive "Apple Distinguished School" distinctions from Apple Inc.[32] Since 2012, Jackson State University has provided all first-time, full-time freshmen brand new iPads.[33] JSU is the first and only HBCU in Mississippi to support a bachelor's and master's level engineering program.[34] 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.[35]

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

The JSU Tigers football team alumni includes Pro Football Hall of Famers Lem Barney, Jackie Slater, Walter Payton, and Robert Brazile, as well as 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 Mississippi 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.[39] 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.[39] The first full-time band director, William W. Davis, was appointed in 1948, replacing Charles Saulsburg, who had been director since 1947.[39] 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.[39] The band at this time had around 20 members, increasing to 88 in 1963.[40] Davis retired as director in 1971, but remained the chief arranger for the band.[39] He was replaced by Harold J. Haughton.[39] Haughton was instrumental in the creation of the Prancing J-Settes, the band's accompanying danceline.

Student life

Student body

In fall 2022, Jackson State's total enrollment was 6,906, of which 4,927 were undergraduate students and 1,979 were graduate.[41]

As of fall 2020, 67% of Jackson State's student community were Mississippi residents, with the majority from Hinds County and Madison County. The top three feeder states were Illinois (409 students), Louisiana (269), and Georgia (220). Nigeria accounted for the highest number of international students on campus. 91% of students identified as Black, 6% identified as white, and 4% identified with various race categories. 31% of students were male, and 69% of students were female.[42]

Student organizations

Entrance of JSU's Gibbs-Green Memorial Plaza

Jackson State University offers over 60 registered student organizations. There are academic, residential, religious, Greek, and special interest groups.[43] All student organizations are governed under the Student Affairs division.

Campus media

Jackson State is home to radio station WJSU-88.5 FM which plays jazz, gospel, news, and public affairs programming. The television station W23BC is known as JSUTV and aired on Comcast. The independent weekly student newspaper is called Blue and White Flash[44] and the Jacksonian magazine features news and highlights about the university.

Notable alumni


Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Charlotte P. Morris 1970 Interim president of Tuskegee University (2010; 2017–2018) [45]
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 (2016–2017) [46]
Mary L. Smith 1957 11th president of Kentucky State University (1991 to 1998) [47]

Arts, entertainment, and music

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Derrick Barnes 1999 Children's literature and illustrator [48]
Vivian Brown 1986 American Television Meteorologist [49]
Tobias Dorzon Chef, television personality, restaurateur, and former professional football player [50]
Percy Greene Founding editor of the Jackson Advocate newspaper, Mississippi's oldest black-owned newspaper [51]
Lester Julian Merriweather 2000 Memphis-based visual artist, collagist [52]
Demarco Morgan 2001 News anchor for KCBS-TV in Los Angeles [53]
Willie Norwood American Gospel singer, father and voice coach of R&B singers Brandy and Ray J [54]
Sekou Smith 1997 Sportswriter, reported on the NBA [55]
Tonea Stewart 1969 Actress and educator [56]
Cassandra Wilson 1980 Jazz vocalist and musician [57]

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 [58]
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
Laphonza Butler 2001 United States Senator from California (2023–present)
Robert G. Clark, Jr. 1952 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. [59]
Flossie Boyd-McIntyre 1960 Member North Carolina House of Representatives (1994–2002) [60]
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 [61]
Dennis Deer 2nd district Cook County Commissioner [62]
Alvin O. Chambliss 1967 Lawyer, civil rights activist; participant in historic Ayers v. Barbour case [63][64]


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. [65]
Lem Barney Pro Football Hall of Fame member, cornerback with the Detroit Lions
Marcus Benard 2009 Former 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 [66]
Robert Brazile Pro Football Hall of Fame member, 7-time NFL Pro Bowl outside linebacker with the Houston Oilers [67]
Wes Chamberlain Former Major Leaguer 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 member; played entire career as running back 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
Roy Hilton 1965 Former NFL defensive end [68]
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 [69]
Purvis Short Former NBA small forward for the Golden State Warriors in the mid-1980s
Jackie Slater Pro Football Hall of Fame member; played entire career as offensive tackle with the Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams
Jimmy Smith Retired NFL wide receiver; played majority career with the Jacksonville Jaguars [70]
Karen Taylor Played professionally in Europe, mother of Stanley Johnson [71]
Michael Tinsley 2006 Track & Field sprinter [72]
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 [73]

See also


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  19. ^ Reily, Ross (March 2, 2023). "JSU president Hudson placed on administrative leave by IHL. Here is what we know". Clarion Ledger. Retrieved March 3, 2023.
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