university of chicago news office

University of Chicago News: Resources
Notable African-American Alumni

[carter woodson]
Dr. Carter G. Woodson
“The educational system of a country is worthless unless it [revolutionizes the social order]. Men of scholarship, and prophetic insight, must show us the right way and lead us into light which is shining brighter and brighter.”

The man known as the “Father of Black History Month” is Chicago alumnus Dr. Carter G. Woodson. The son of former slaves, Woodson received both his A.B. and A.M. degrees in History in 1908 and later went on to a distinguished career as a Professor at Howard University. To honor Dr. Woodson, the University named a new campus of its Charter School after him in 2007.

Woodson fought aggressively during the 1920s to have a national celebration of the contributions of African Americans; in February of 1926, Negro History Week was born. Woodson selected the second week of the month of February for the celebration because it fell between the birthdays of Fredrick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. It wasn’t until 1976, after the civil rights movement of the 1960s, that Black History Week was expanded into Black History Month. Today, Black History Month is an annual celebration of African-American history.

In honor of Black History Month, the University celebrates the accomplishments of some of its many distinguished African-American alumni.


[] Marguerite Ross Barnett
(1945 - 1992)
A.M. ’66, Ph.D. ’72
First African-American, female President of the University of Houston (1990-92); first African-American Chancellor of the University of Missouri (1986-90)

[] Timuel D. Black
A.M. ’54
Activist, educator, and leader in the cause of social justice for more than four decades; pioneered desegregation of Chicago and its public school system; winner of a Public Service Citation

Robert Bell Robert Bell
S.M. ’73
Research Scientist in the AT&T Research Labs; 2003 AT&T Science and Technology Medalist

[] Barbara Bowman
A.M. ’52
President and founder of Chicago’s Erickson Institute for Advanced Study in Child Development; President of the National Association for the Education of Young Children

[] William Holmes Brown
(1923 - 1994)
J.D. ’54
House Parliamentarian, House of Representatives (1974-94)

[] Jocelyn Carter-Miller
M.B.A. ’81
Director of Principal Financial Group, Inc; former Executive Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer for Office Depot, Inc.

[] Robert C. Davidson, Jr.
M.B.A. ’69
Chairman and CEO of Surface Protection Industries, Inc; Vice President and Co-Founder, Urban National Corporation

Allison Davis, Sr. Allison Davis, Sr.
(1902 - 1983)
Ph.D. ’42
The John Dewey Distinguished Service Professor in Education, 1970-1983; University faculty member, 1942-1983; first African-American professor to receive tenure at the University of Chicago; influential social anthropologist and educator

[] Benjamin O. Davis, Jr.
(1912 - 2002)
X. ’33
First African-American General in the U.S. Air Force (1954); Commander of the Tuskegee Airmen; Assistant Secretary of Transportation under Richard Nixon

[] Willie D. Davis
M.B.A. ’68
Director, MGM Mirage Inc.; President and Chief Executive Officer of All Pro Broadcasting; Pro Football Hall of Fame member (1981); Director and member of the Audit Committee of Sara Lee Corporation; Director of Alliance Bancshares California; University trustee

[] Arnold Donald
M.B.A. ’80
Director of Carnival Corporation; President and Chief Executive Officer of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International; former Chairman and CEO of Merisant Company; former Senior Vice-President of Monsanto Company

[] Katherine Dunham
(1909 - 2006)
Ph.B. ’36
Dancer and choreographer

[] Luther H. Foster
(1911 - 1994)
A.M. ’41, Ph.D. ’51
President of Tuskegee Institute (1953-1981)

[] Mack Gipson, Jr.
deceased, 1995
S.M. ’61, Ph.D. ’63
First African American to obtain a Ph.D. in Geology; Founding advisor of the National Association of Black Geologists and Geophysicists (1981); consultant to NASA

[] Charles V. Hamilton
A.M. ’57, Ph.D. ’64
Civil rights leader; Author, with Stokley Carmichael, of Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America (1967); WS Sayre Professor Emeritus of Government and Political Science, Columbia University

[] Nathan Hare
A.M. ’57, Ph.D. ’62
Author, activist, and sociologist; developer of first black studies program in the United States at San Francisco State (1968); founding publisher of The Black Scholar

[] Warren E. Henry
Ph.D. ’41
Physicist and Professor in magnetism and superconductivity; developed video amplifiers used in portable radar systems on warships in World War II; his demonstration of the proof of non-interacting paramagnetic ions is used in a number of physics texts.

[] Donald Hopkins
M.D. ’66
Vice President, Health Programs at The Carter Center; former Deputy Director and Acting Director of International Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

[] Michelle Howard-Vital
A.B. ’74, M.A.T. ’75
Interim Chancellor, Winston-Salem State University (2006); Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of North Carolina (2003-2006); Associate provost and vice chancellor for public service and continuing studies at UNC Wilmington (1993-2003)

[] Chimere Ikoku
deceased, 2002
S.M. ’52, Ph.D. ’64
Former Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria; pan-Africanist; anti-apartheid advocate

[] Jesse Jackson
X. ’67
Civil rights leader; political activist; minister; founder of Operation PUSH and the National Rainbow Coalition

Valerie Jarrett Valerie Jarrett
LAB ’73
Vice President of the Board of Trustees, University of Chicago; Managing Director and Executive Vice President of the Habitat Company; Chairperson of the Board of the Chicago Stock Exchange

[] John H. Johnson
(1918 - 2005)
X. ’42
Founder of Johnson Publishing Company; publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines; first African American to appear on the Forbes 400 Rich List

[] Ann Dibble Jordan
A.M. ’61
Board member, Johnson & Johnson; former Professor at the University of Chicago; women's and minority rights advocate; first African American to chair a Presidential Inaugural (1996); winner of the American Woman Award (2004)

[] Ernest Everett Just
(1883 - 1941)
Ph.D. ’16
Zoologist, Biologist, Physiologist, Research Scientist

[] Patricia Kabbah
(1933 - 1998)
M.A. ’63
Former first lady of Sierra Leone

[] Clyde Kennard
(1927 - 1963)
X. ’52
NAACP member and civil rights pioneer; his wrongful 1960 conviction was overturned in May 2006

[] Jewel Lafontant
(1922 - 1997)
J.D. ’46
First African-American woman to receive a degree from the University of Chicago Law School; United Nations delegate; director of Jewel grocery chain; civil rights advocate

[] LaMar F. Laster, Jr.
M.B.A '74
Chairman, Chief Operations Officer, Executive Vice President, Vice President of Finance/Chief Financial Officer at Starr Surgical Company (positions held over a period between 1986-1995)

[] Deborah Mack
B.A. ’76
Consultant and adviser to the Smithsonian Institution; one of the original five scholars appointed by the Smithsonian Institution to an advisory committee for the planned National Museum of African American History and Culture

[] Omar Ramadhan Mapuri
A.M. ’85
Tanzanian ambassador to China; former member of the Parliament of Tanzania; former Minister of Education and Minister for Home Affairs of the United Republic of Tanzania

[] Ulysses G. Mason
M.D. ’36
Founder of first integrated hospital in Cleveland during the 1950s; advocated school and library access for African Americans in Birmingham; physician; banker; civic leader

[] Benjamin E. Mays
M.A. ’25, Ph.D. ’35
President of Morehouse College (1940-1967), where he mentored Martin Luther King, Jr.; Recipient of the American Educator Award (1980); minister; educator; scholar; social activist; spearheaded civil rights movement

[] Carol Moseley-Braun
J.D. ’72
First African-American woman elected to U.S. Senate (Illinois, 1992-98); U.S. Ambassador (1999-2001); founder of Moseley Braun LLC law firm

1 – 2NEXT >

Home Releases Citations Resources Contacts Sitemap/Help

University of Chicago News Office
5801 South Ellis Avenue - Room 200
Chicago, Illinois 60637-1473
Tel: (773) 702-8360
Fax: (773) 702-8324
Contact Us