Notable Alcornite

Being Black means being a part of a rich lineage filled with inventors, trendsetters, and barrier breakers that paved the way for us to flourish today. Alcorn State University celebrates our Black heroes for daring to be great. Happy Black History Month!

Hiram Rhodes Revels was the first African American to serve in the U.S. Congress. He was sworn as a U.S. Senator on February 25, 1870. Upon the completion of his term, he returned to Mississippi and in 1871, became the first president of Alcorn State University.

A picture of Hiram Rhodes Revels.Hiram Rhodes Revels was born to free parents in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on September 27, 1827. His father worked as a Baptist preacher, and his mother was of Scottish descent. He claimed his ancestors “as far back as my knowledge extends, were free,” and, in addition to his Scottish background, he was rumored to be of mixed African and Croatan Indian lineage. In an era when educating black children was illegal in North Carolina, Revels attended a school taught by a free black woman and worked a few years as a barber. In 1844, he moved north to complete his education. Revels attended the Beech Grove Quaker Seminary in Liberty, Indiana, and the Darke County Seminary for black students, in Ohio. In 1845, Revels was ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. In the early 1850s, Revels married Phoebe A. Bass, a free black woman from Ohio, and they had six daughters.

Revels traveled throughout the country, carrying out religious work and educating fellow African Americans in Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Revels helped recruit two black regiments from Maryland. In 1862, when black soldiers were permitted to fight, he served as the chaplain for a black regiment in campaigns in Vicksburg and Jackson, Mississippi. In 1863, he established a freedmen’s school in St. Louis, Missouri. At the end of the Civil War, Revels served in a church in Leavenworth, Kansas. While traveling in Kansas, Revels and his family were asked to sit in the smoking car rather than the car for first–class ticket holders. Revels protested that the language in the smoking car was too coarse for his wife and children, and the conductor finally relented. Revels served in churches in Louisville, Kentucky, and New Orleans, Louisiana, before settling in Natchez, Mississippi, in 1866.

It was through his work in education that Revels became involved in politics, taking his first elected position as a Natchez alderman in 1868. He entered politics reluctantly, fearing racial friction and interference with his religious work, but he quickly won over blacks and whites with his moderate and compassionate political opinions. In 1869, Revels won a seat in the Mississippi state senate. Under the newly installed Reconstruction government, Revels was one of more than 30 African Americans among the state’s 140 legislators. Revels attracted the attention of fellow legislators when he gave a moving prayer on the opening day of the session.

On January 20, 1870, the Mississippi state legislature selected Revels to complete the remaining 13 months of the unexpired term of former senator Albert Brown, who abandoned the seat in 1861 when Mississippi seceded from the Union. Hiram Rhodes Revels became the first African American to serve in the U.S. Congress. He was sworn as a U.S. Senator on February 25, 1870. Upon the completion of his term, he returned to Mississippi and in 1871, became the founding president of then Alcorn University, currently Alcorn State University.

  • American Civil Rights Activist in Mississippi
  • NAACP Mississippi Field Secretary
  • United States Army World War II Veteran
  • Alcorn State University Alumnus

A picture of Medgar Wiley Evers.Medgar Evers, a civil rights pioneer, was Mississippi’s field secretary for the NAACP and a World War II veteran who had served in the United States Army. He worked to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi, end the segregation of public facilities, and expand opportunities for African Americans, which included the enforcement of voting rights.

  • Alcorn State University Alumni
  • Served as Chief Education Officer Associate Administrator at NASA
  • Served as Special Assistant for Suborbital and Special Orbital Projects at Goddard Space Flight Center
  • President of St. Philip’s College

A picture of Dr. Adena Williams Loston.Dr. Adena Williams Loston is the 14th president of St. Philip’s College in San Antonio, Texas. Some of Loston’s career accolades include receiving NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal and Exceptional Achievement Medal, the Daisy Bates Education Advocacy Award from the NAACP, and the W.E.B. DuBois Higher Education Award from the National Alliance of Black School Educators.

  • American Giants Left-Handed Pitcher in Baseball’s Negro Leagues in the 1920s and 1930s
  • Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996, SWAC Hall of Fame in 1997, and Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2003
  • Alcorn State University Alumnus

A picture of Bill Foster playing baseball.Bill Foster was a famed Negro League pitcher who was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996. Foster helped lead the Chicago American Giants to a Negro League World Series championship in 1927. His career record was 143-69, with an earned run average of 2.40. Later in life, Foster was baseball coach at Alcorn from 1960 until he passed away in1978.

  • American NFL Football Quarterback for the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens
  • First African-American Quarterback to win AP NFL MVP
  • Alcorn State University Alumnus

A picture of Steve McNair.Steve McNair played in the NFL for 13 seasons with the Tennessee Titans and the Baltimore Ravens. McNair was the first African American quarterback to win the AP NFL MVP award in 2003. McNair played in four postseasons with the Titans, including their run to Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000. At Alcorn, McNair won the Walter Payton Award as the top I-AA player and finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting during his senior year.

  • Philanthropist and Women’s Advocate
  • Award-Winning OB/GYN
  • Cast Member of Bravo’s Hit Reality TV Show Married to Medicine
  • Founder of 50 Shades of Pink Foundation
  • Alcorn State University Alumni

A picture of Dr. Jacqueline Walters.Dr. Jacqueline Walters is a philanthropist, health expert, woman’s advocate, and award-winning OBGYN. She is also one of the stars of the hit Bravo reality show, “Married to Medicine.” She is the founder of the 50 Shades of Pink Foundation, an organization established in 2013 whose mission is to treat the inner and outer beauty of cancer survivors.

  • American Writer, Journalist and Screenwriter
  • US Coast Guard Veteran
  • Alcorn State University Alumnus

A picture of Alex Haley.Alex Haley was a writer whose works of historical fiction and reportage depicted generations of African American lives. He is widely known for Roots and The Autobiography of Malcom X.

  • United States Olympic Gold Medalist
  • Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame Inductee
  • SWAC Hall of Fame Inductee
  • Alcorn State University Alumni

A picture of Mildrette Netter White.Mildrette Netter White earned a spot on the United States women’s 4X100m relay team, which competed in the 1968 Olympics. White and three other women captured the gold medal in the 4X100m relay, which made her the first female from Alcorn to earn a gold medal in the Olympic Games.

  • Author
  • First Female Dean of the School of Education and Psychology at Alcorn
  • Alcorn State University Alumni

A picture of Dr. Josephine Posey.Dr. Josephine Posey authored two books on Alcorn State University’s history, Succeeding Against Great Odds: Alcorn State University in its Second Century” and “Against Great Odds: The History of Alcorn State University.” She also authored the paperback, pictorial history documenting the University and notable alumni. In 1984, Posey became the first female to serve as the dean of the School of Education and Psychology.

  • American NFL Football Assistant Head Coach for Buffalo Bills
  • Played Defensive Back for the Chicago Bears
  • Alcorn State University Alumnus

A picture of Leslie Frazier.Leslie Frazier is the defensive coordinator/assistant head coach for the Buffalo Bills. Frazier started at defensive back for the Super Bowl winning Chicago Bears in 1985. As a coach, he helped lead the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl win in 2007 as the team’s assistant head coach. He got his first head coaching position with the Minnesota Vikings in 2010 and held the position until 2013.

  • First African-American Female Orthodontist in the State of Mississippi
  • Voted Best Orthodontist 2016 and 2018 by Jackson Free Press
  • Honored by Women for Progress of MS, Inc. as the woman-owned business for March 2016
  • Alcorn State University Alumni

A picture of Dr. Chandra Minor.Dr. Chandra Minor became the first African American female orthodontist to practice in the state of Mississippi. Minor is the owner of Smile Design Orthodontics in Pearl, Mississippi.

  • Actor and Producer
  • Won Four Awards and 16 Nominations During Career
  • Alcorn State University Alumnus

A picture of Michael Clarke Duncan.Michael Clark Duncan an Academy Award nominated actor for his breakout role as John Coffey in “The Green Mile,” which was released in 1999. Duncan worked alongside actors such as Bruce Willis (“Armageddon in 1998 and “The Whole Nine Yards in 2000), Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (“The Scorpion King in 2002), and Ben Affleck (Daredevil in 2003).

  • American Politician
  • First African-American Female Elected to the Mississippi Legislature
  • Alcorn State University Alumni

A picture of Alyce Griffin Clarke.Representative Alyce Griffin Clarke is the first African American woman to serve in the Mississippi Legislature. She has served as a Mississippi House of Representative for District 69 in Hinds County since 1985.

  • First African-American Commissioner of Higher Education in Mississippi
  • 19th President of Alcorn State University
  • Alcorn State University Alumnus

A picture of Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr.Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr. currently serves as the first African American commissioner of the Higher Education for the state of Mississippi. As commissioner, Rankins advises the board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) on all higher education issues and provides oversight to the system’s eight public universities and academic medical center. Rankins served as Alcorn’s 19 president.

KIMBERLY MORGAN

  • Second African-American to be Crowned Miss Mississippi
  • Alcorn State University Alumni

A picture of Kimberly Morgan.Kimberly Morgan was the second African American woman to win the Miss Mississippi title in 2007. In 2005, she performed at the inaugural ceremony of President George W. Bush as a student in Alcorn State University’s Concert Choir.

  • Dentist, Community Activist, and Philanthropist
  • Author of Mississippi Born/California Bound: How Jim Crow and Racism Lost To A Family Legacy
  • Alcorn State University Alumnus

A picture of Dr. Eugene Spencer Jr.

Eugene Spencer Jr is a retired dentist, community activist, and philanthropist. He earned a doctorate from Howard University in 1963. His post-doctoral education was spent at the University of California San Diego’s School of Medicine, the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) School of Dentistry, and the University of Pacific School of Dentistry.

  • Founded and Directed Alcorn State University Sounds of Dyn-O-Mite Marching Band, including the Golden Girls and the Purple Flashers Flag Corp
  • Alcorn State University Icon

Samuel Griffin served as the director of Bands for Alcorn State University for 40 years. He was known for his auxiliary innovations with the marching band that included the Golden Girls and the Purple Flashers Flag Corp. He led the marching band to halftime shows in high-profile venues in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, New York, Michigan, Missouri, and Texas.

  • First African-American to receive a doctorate in Mississippi
  • Awarded the Outstanding Presidential Cluster Citation by President Ronald Reagan
  • Named among Ebony Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Black Americans in 1974, 1975 and 1976
  • Named by the Jackson Daily News panel as one of the twelve most influential Mississippians during the decade of the 70’s
  • Served as President of Alcorn State University

Walter Washington is Alcorn’s longest-tenured president, serving 25 years in the position from 1969-1994. Washington is remembered for his fight for equal funding and securing major public and private funds to improve life on campus, including turning a once dirt road that connected the campus with Highway 61 into a four-lane highway.

  • First Female and 20th President of Alcorn State University
  • University of Toledo Department of Chemical Engineering Outstanding Alumna Award, 2019
  • Received the American Institute of Chemical Engineers MAC Eminent Scholars Award, 2017
  • Recipient of Top 30 Influential Women of Houston Award, 2015
  • Selected as Diverse Issues Emerging Scholars Under 40, 2013
  • Nominated for the National Society of Women Engineers Faculty Advisor Award
  • Prairie View A&M University Student Organization Advisor of the Year, 2009
  • Invited to the Louis Stokes Council of Opportunity in Education Policy Summit at Washington DC
  • Prairie View A&M University College of Engineering Outstanding Service Award, 2008
  • Alcorn State University Alumni

A picture of Dr. Felecia M. Nave.Dr. Felecia M. Nave is Alcorn State University’s first female president in school history. Some of Nave’s awards include the University of Toledo Department of Chemical Engineering Outstanding Alumna Award, 2019; AICHE MAC Eminent Scholars Award, 2017; Top 30 Influential Women of Houston Award, 2015; Who’s Who in Black Houston, 2015; and Diverse Issues Emerging Scholars Under 40, 2013.