Illustrious Alumni of HBCUs List

In celebration of the new subcategory of HBCUs in CC, here is a short list of illustrious HBCU alumni and their alma maters: Please feel free to add other great HBCU alumni to the list.

  1. Martin Luther King Jr./ Morehouse College
    Baptist Minister & Civil Rights Leader

  2. Toni Morrison/ Howard University
    Acclaimed Author

  3. Thurgood Marshall/ Lincoln University and Howard University
    Civil Rights Lawyer & Supreme Court Justice

  4. Stacey Abrams/ Spelman College
    Lawyer, Voter rights activist, & Current Georgia Gubernatorial Candidate

  5. Wanda Sykes/ Hampton University
    Actress, writer, & comedienne

  6. Earl G. Graves/ Morgan State University
    Founder of large Multi-Media company (Black Enterprise)

  7. Jesse Jackson/ North Carolina A&T
    Baptist Minister, Civil Rights Leader, & Rainbow/Push Coalition Founder

  8. Ed Bradley/ Cheyney University
    Journalist and Reporter with 60 Minutes

  9. W.E.B Dubois/ Fisk University
    African-American Scholar & NAACP Co-Founder

  10. Lionel Richie/ Tuskegee University
    Singer, songwriter, and actor

  11. Michael Strahan/ Texas Southern University
    Athlete and Media Personality

  12. Langston Hughes/ Lincoln University
    Poet, social activist, novelist, & playwright

  13. Kenya Barris/ Clark Atlanta University
    Film and TV writer, producer, director, & actor

  14. John W. Thompson/ Florida A&M University
    Former Chair of Microsoft & Current Chair of Illumina

  15. Rosalind Brewer/ Spelman College
    Current CEO of Walgreens

  16. Steven A. Smith/ Winston-Salem State University
    ESPN Sports TV Personality, radio host, & journalist

  17. Janice Bryant Howroyd/ North Carolina A&T
    CEO & Founder of ActOne (1st African American women to build and own a billion dollar company)

  18. Ruth Simmons/ Dillard University
    Former Brown University President & Current Prairie View A&M University President

  19. André Leon Talley/ North Carolina Central University
    Fashion journalist, stylist, creative director & Former Editor-at-Large of Vogue magazine

  20. James Weldon Johnson/ Clark Atlanta University
    Writer and civil rights activist (Writer of “Lift Every Voice and Sing”)


Kamala Harris, Howard University


Great list @ChangeTheGame! I don’t think he ended up graduating, but Ta-Nehisi Coates is an incredible writer and he attended Howard.


Spike Lee/ Morehouse
Filmmaker, director, writer, actor

W.E.B DuBois/ Fisk University
Scholar, Activist, NAACP Co-Founder

Alice Walker/ Spelman College
Writer and activist

Chadwick Boseman/ Howard


Looks like there are Wikipedia pages of notable alumni (and sometimes other associated people) of many colleges and universities. For example:

1 Like

This page from Dillard University goes into more detail beyond just “famous” people, but it’s interesting to see people who have big leadership positions in famous or important organizations, even if their names aren’t “known” to the majority of citizens. But Ellis Marsalis (jazz musician & professor) was a Dillard grad.

Erykah Badu/Grambling University
Singer-Songwriter, record producer, actor

Charles M. Blow/Grambling University
Journalist, commentator, political analyst

Randy Jackson/Southern University
Singer, record producer, entrepreneur & tv personality

Keenan Ivory Wayans/Tuskegee University
Actor, comedian, filmmaker

Ralph Ellison/Tuskegee University
Writer, literary critic, & scholar

Oprah Winfrey, Tennessee State
Talk show host, producer, actor, media mogul

Medgar Evers, Alcorn State
Veteran, civil rights activist

Robert Abbott, Hampton
Newspaper publisher


I love talking about the famous people who have attended my HBCU (and others), but the most amazing aspect about my own journey has been my friends made and their impact in the communities that they reside. I have kept up with a core group of about 15 Morehouse brothers for almost the last 20 years on a group text. Among us are teachers, a college professor, a couple of doctors, corporate middle men (like myself), engineers, and a couple of high level executives and the one thing that shocks me is that we all have contributed in some way to giving back to our communities. About half of us grew up in poverty or in single parent households, and to see how we are raising our families and are making a real difference within our communities may be the greatest advertisement how SERVICE is a core component of a being a HBCU alum.


Were you a member of a fraternity at Morehouse? I have found that alumni from the traditionally black sororities and fraternities have a greater (or at least more open) attachment to their Greek affiliations than alums from the primarily white sororities and fraternities, but also that the way the black Greek alums gather is 95% service work. Although the traditionally white Greek system does tout its commitment to service, I’m not sure how present that remains after graduation in terms of doing communal service for others.


This one is only half serious, but I add it because for little kids, the character of Doc McStuffins is FAMOUS. Anyway, the mother character on the show (Dr. Myiesha McStuffins) is based on a real person, Dr. Myiesha Taylor, who did her undergrad at Xavier University of Louisiana, and is a prominent physician leader. I tell all the parents of kids who worship Doc McStuffins about XULA.


I did not join a fraternity at Morehouse, mainly because I felt like I was already a part of one just being at Morehouse. But the fraternity brothers amongst my friends are all still very active with their fraternities and community service. I often make fun of one of my friends in a fraternity for “soliciting” donations all of the time for some cause or scholarship because it almost seems like a 2nd job for him (but I still always make a donation). The Black sorority and fraternity members of the “Divine 9” that I know have a life-long commitment to their Greek affiliation, their line sisters or brothers, and to service and are openly proud whether they attended HBCUs or schools where they were in the minority.