Langston University
Former names
Oklahoma Colored Agricultural and Normal University (1897–1941)
MottoEducation For Service
TypePublic land-grant historically black university
EstablishedMarch 12, 1897 (1897-03-12)
Parent institution
Oklahoma Agricultural & Mechanical Colleges
Academic affiliations
Endowment$45 million (2015)
PresidentRuth Ray Jackson
Location, ,
United States
ColorsBlue & Orange
Sporting affiliations

Langston University (LU) is a public land-grant historically black university in Langston, Oklahoma. It is the only historically black college in the state and the westernmost HBCU in the United States. The main campus in Langston is a rural setting 10 miles (16 km) east of Guthrie. The University also serves an urban mission, with University Centers in Tulsa (at the same campus as the OSU-Tulsa facility) and Oklahoma City. The university is a member-school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.


The school was founded in 1897 and was known as the Oklahoma Colored Agricultural and Normal University. From 1898 to 1916 its president was Inman E. Page. Langston University was created as a result of the second Morrill Act in 1890. The law required states with land-grant colleges (such as Oklahoma State University, then known as Oklahoma A&M) to either admit African Americans, or provide an alternative school for them to attend as a condition of receiving federal funds.[2] The university was renamed as Langston University in 1941 in honor of John Mercer Langston (1829–1897), civil rights pioneer, first African-American member of Congress from Virginia, founder of the Howard University Law School, and American consul-general to Haiti.

Through the years, Langston University has developed slowly but surely. Some of the most serious problems have been political influences, financial stress, and lack of adequate space and equipment. During the 1960s, the campus underwent a complete makeover. New buildings appeared, and additions were made to the library and auditorium.

Poet Melvin B. Tolson taught at Langston from 1947 until 1964. Tolson was portrayed by Denzel Washington in the film The Great Debaters.

In August 2021, university President Kent J. Smith Jr announced the university would use COVID-19 relief money to forgive the debt of students enrolled between spring 2020 and summer 2021, forgiving $4.65 million in student debt.[3]

Langston University commemorated the opening of a state-of-the-art Allied Health Facility on its Tulsa Campus on March 30, 2023. The 17,000 square-foot building is home of the Langston University School of Nursing and Health Professions. The facility includes simulation labs with mannequins powered by artificial intelligence, spacious classrooms, a lecture hall, conference and meeting rooms, and department and administrative office spaces.

President Kent J. Smith Jr announced his retirement as the University's 16th President effective at the end of the Spring 2023 semester. The Oklahoma Agricultural & Mechanical Colleges Board of Regents unanimously appointed Ruth Ray Jackson as interim president beginning July 6, 2023. In 2024, she became its 17th president.[4]


Six schools house the degree programs of Langston University: Sherman Lewis School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences; School of Arts and Sciences; School of Business; School of Education and Behavioral Sciences; School of Nursing and Health Professions; and the School of Physical Therapy. A total of 30 undergraduate and six graduate degree programs are offered at LU.[5]

The university offers the Edwin P. McCabe Honors Program for highly motivated undergraduate students with exceptional academic records.[6]

The university was accredited with a Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) program in 2005. It is the university's only doctoral program and one of two DPT programs in the state.[7][8] Students learn in the School of Physical Therapy building.

Langston University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Several programs are accredited by accreditors specific to that discipline.[9]


A football game between the Langston Lions (left) and North American Stallions in 2023

The Langston athletic teams are called the Lions. The university is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Sooner Athletic Conference since the 2018–19 academic year. The Lions previously competed as a member of the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) from 1998–99 to 2017–18. They were also a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) from 1931–32 to 1956–57, which is currently an NCAA Division I FCS athletic conference.

Langston competes in nine intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include basketball, football and track & field; while women's sports include basketball, cheer, softball, track & field and volleyball.

There is also a co-ed club soccer program. The present athletic director is Donnita Rogers. The Lions won the 1939 and 1941 HBCU National Championships in football. Langston won two HBCU National Championships in basketball in 1944 and 1946. In February 2023, the Langston University Lions made history clinching its first men's basketball Sooner Athletic Conference tournament championship and being the first HBCU to win the men's basketball Sooner Athletic Conference regular season and tournament championship in the same season.

Marching Pride

Langston University Marching Pride performing during halftime of a Dallas Renegades game

Langston's marching band is known as the "Langston University Marching Pride". It is a major ambassador of the university, a supporter at athletic events, and serves as a training center for students interested in pursuing a career in music and/or developing pertinent life skills. Charlie Wilson, of The Gap Band, once served as Drum Major.[10] The band currently consists of over 210 members. Langston also has a jazz band, concert band, wind ensemble, Bahamian band, and trombone ensemble.

The Langston Marching Pride Band has won three bids to the Honda Battle of the Bands in the Georgia Dome since the inaugural event in 2003. The Band was one of eight bands selected for the 2023 Pepsi National Battle of the Bands in Houston, Texas.

Notable alumni and attendees

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Maurice "Mo" Bassett Former fullback for the Cleveland Browns
Bessie Coleman The first African American woman pilot and the first American woman to obtain an International Pilot's license. Coleman enrolled in 1910, but could only complete one term due to financial issues.
Brendan Crawford 2013 Football quarterback
The Delta Rhythm Boys Jazz vocal group inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame
Robert DoQui Actor
Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher 1945 Civil rights activist; stood at the forefront of the fight to integrate historically white law schools in the South
Nathan Hare 1954 Founding publisher of The Black Scholar (1969-1975) and author of The Black Anglo Saxons. Also wrote the conceptual proposal for the first department of black studies, and was the first person hired to coordinate a black studies program in the United States (1968).
Matthew Hatchette 1997 Wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Amsterdam Admirals (1997-2003)
Marques Haynes Basketball Hall of Fame inductee; basketball and football star before going on to captain the Harlem Globetrotters
Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson 1975 Pro Bowl linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys (1975-1979) [11]
Jennifer Hudson 2003 Professional singer, actress (attended for the 1999 fall semester, but did not graduate)
Dr. Austin Lane Former president of Texas Southern University [12]
Odell Lawson Football running back New Orleans Saints New England Patriots [13]
Clara Luper 1944 Civil rights leader best known for her leadership role in the 1958 Oklahoma City Sit-in Movement
Helen Neal 1962 First black graduate of West Texas State University
Dr. Henry Ponder Former president of Fisk University, Talladega College, Benedict College, NAFEO and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity
Nancy Riley Former member of the Oklahoma Senate from the 37th district
Colonel Michael C. Thompson OHP Major in Oklahoma Highway Patrol; member of Oklahoma Army National Guard. Nominated in 2010 to be Oklahoma Secretary of Safety & Security as well as Commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety. [14]

See also


  1. ^ "Langston University".
  2. ^ "OHS Publications Division". Archived from the original on 2014-10-07. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  3. ^ Martinez-Keel, Nuria (7 August 2021). "Langston University erases $4.65 million in student debt". The Oklahoman. Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  4. ^ "Ruth Ray Jackson Named the Seventeenth President of Langston University in Oklahoma". The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. 2024-05-06. Retrieved 2024-05-12.
  5. ^ "Langston University -" (PDF).
  6. ^ "The Edwin P. McCabe Honors Program - Langston University". Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  7. ^ "Doctor of Physical Therapy Program". Archived from the original on 2006-09-01. Retrieved 2007-02-21.
  8. ^ "Langston University Welcomes Largest Freshman Class". 23 September 2015. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  9. ^ "Accreditations - Langston University". Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  10. ^ "Marching Pride - Langston University". Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  11. ^ "Thomas Henderson". Retrieved 2008-11-06.
  12. ^ "President's Bio". Texas Southern University. 2019. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
  13. ^ "Odell Lawson". Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  14. ^ "Michael Thompson as DPS commissioner nominee". Retrieved January 24, 2011.

35°56′41″N 97°15′41″W / 35.94472°N 97.26139°W / 35.94472; -97.26139