NCSU Libraries

African Americans

Here's some description about African American History at NC State.

1880s

1889

Former slave begins 50 year career at university

An early female African American employee of the university was "Aunt" Ellen McGuire, who began working at NC State in 1889. McGuire worked at State for 50 years, retiring in 1939. According to a 1939 Technician article, McGuire was born into slavery on a North Carolina plantation. Although McGuire maintained many responsibilities while the College employed her, she spent much of her time working in the infirmary.

1890s

1890

Second Morrill Act becomes law

The Second Morrill Act becomes law, requiring states to provide technical education for African Americans. No federal money would be disbursed to any college that made distinctions between students on the basis of race. States could comply, however, by providing separate colleges for blacks and whites.

1891

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College established

In order to comply with the Second Morrill Act and yet prevent admission of African Americans to the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, the North Carolina state government creates the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro.

1910s

1911

First African American agricultural extension agent

The North Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station (located at A&M College) hired Neil Alexander Bailey as its first African American agricultural extension agent.

1914

African American 4-H Clubs

The first club for African-American youth was created in Sampson County under the leadership of G.W. Herring.

1915

African American 4-H leader

John Wray became the first statewide African American youth club agent.

1917

African American Home Demonstration

The first Home Demonstration programs were organized for African American women.

1920s

1926

African American 4-H Short Course

The first State 4-H Short Course for African American youth was held at North Carolina A & T College in Greensboro.

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African American 4-H Short Course

1950s

1951

Graduate admission for African Americans

The Consolidated University of North Carolina decides that African American students are eligible for admission into graduate programs.

1953

Dairy farm conference segregated dining

In 1953, NC State College hosted a dairy farm conference on campus. Chancellor Bostian declared that African American dairy farmers attending the conference could only eat in the west wing of the dining hall. Bostian’s announcement was in keeping with the College’s policy, which declared African Americans attending on campus meetings would have meals in the dining hall but only when a separate room was available. Leazar Hall served as the campus-dining hall until 1971.

1953

First African-American graduate students admitted

State College admits two African-American graduate students into the School of Engineering: Robert Clemons and Hardy Liston. Clemons became the college's first black graduate; Liston later withdrew and didn't complete his degree.

1955

Frazier v. the Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina

In Frazier v. the Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina, the court determines that undergraduate colleges and universities should be open to African Americans.

1955

Camp Mitchell opened

Camp J.W. Mitchell opened for African American 4-H youth at Hammock's Beach in Onslow County. Funding for the camp had been raised by the 4-H Club Foundation of North Carolina, founded in 1950.

September 1956

First African-American undergraduates

The first four African-American undergraduates enrolled at North Carolina State College: Ed Carson, Manuel Crockett, Irwin Holmes, and Walter Holmes.

1956

First African American in Marching Band

Walter Holmes joined the marching band and the concert band during his first semester at State College in 1956. Holmes'’s presence in the band complicated segregation laws in stadiums and dining halls throughout the south. In 1957, Holmes dined with the band in the Clemson College dining hall. South Carolina residents circulated a petition asking Governor Timmerman "to see that such racial mixing doesn'’t occur again, especially when N.C. State visits the University of South Carolina here Nov. 23." Holmes’'s presence in the band also angered NC State alumni. State alumnus A. W. Boswell wrote a letter to H. W. Taylor, director of alumni affairs, opposing the band’s integration. Chancellor Bostian replied to Boswell’'s letter stating the band director was legally obligated to audition "Negroes." He continued stating, "Two Negroes appeared for tryouts. One was rejected because of only fair performance on his instrument. The individual approved for being in the band is an excellent musician and there was no way the Director of the band could eliminate him."

1957

First African-American graduate

Robert Clemons received a professional degree in Electrical Engineering (PREE), becoming the first African-American to graduate from NC State.

1958

First integrated athletic team

African-American student Irwin Holmes joins the tennis team, making it the first integrated athletic team at State College.

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First integrated athletic team
1958

First African-American academic staff member

The first African-American female academic staff member, Mrs. Justina Williams, is hired to work in the Department of Genetics' Drosophila research lab. Many African-Americans had worked at State prior to Williams’s appointment, however they primarily worked in custodial or food service positions.

1960s

1960

First African-American athletics team captain

Irwin Holmes became co-captain of the tennis team, making him the first African American athletics team captain at NC State.

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First African-American athletics team captain
4/1960

Students and Faculty call for Raleigh integration

Student Government passes a resolution calling for racial integration of public facilities in Raleigh. This is followed by a similar resolution from the Faculty Senate. Student Government forms the Human Relations Committee to write letters to area merchants.

5/1960

First African-American undergraduate degree conferred

Irwin Holmes earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, making him the first African-American undergraduate to receive a degree at NC State. Further documentation of Irwin Holmes's life exists at DigitalNC.

5/1960

First African-American female masters' degree recipient

Hazel Virginia Clark receives a master's degree in Occupational Information and Guidance, becoming the first African-American woman to receive a master's degree from NC State.

1962

First full-time African-American library staff member

Edward Walker is hired as a mail clerk, becoming the first full-time African-American staff member of the library.

1962

First African-American faculty member

Vivian Henderson becomes the first African-American faculty member, taking a position as a visiting professor in the Department of Economics. Henderson was a friend of Martin Luther King, Jr., and he later became president of the historically black Clark College in Atlanta.

1963

Integration on Hillsborough Street

Baxley's on Hillsborough Street becomes the first restaurant near NC State to serve African-Americans.

4/30/1963

Protest over racial segregation

A group of NC State students join with students from Shaw University to protest racial segregation policies in effect at the State Theater on Salisbury Street.

1965

First African-American instructor with faculty ranking

Dorothy Williams becomes the first African-American instructor with faculty ranking, teaching in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

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First African-American instructor with faculty ranking
1965

Extension programs integrate

Extension programs, including 4-H and Home Economics, began to integrate.

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Extension programs integrate
1966

University pressures local landlords

In 1966, the University was pressuring area landlords to rent to African American students. In response, some landlords wrote angry letters to Chancellor Caldwell.

1966

First female African-American undergraduate degree recipient

Norma Wright Garcia becomes the first African-American female to receive an undergraduate degree, earning a BA in history.

1967

First African-American PhD recipient

Stephen Benton Latimer receives a PhD in Animal Science, becoming the first African-American to earn a doctoral degree from NC State.

1967-1968

First African-American Freshman Basketball players

Alfred "Al" Heartley and William Cooper become the first African-American members of the freshman basketball team. Heartley later went on to play on the varsity team.

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First African-American Freshman Basketball players
1967

First African-American football player

Marcus Martin becomes the first African-American player to join the football team.

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First African-American football player
1968

First African-American recruited for basketball

Ed Leftwich becomes the first African-American to be recruited to the basketball team, and the first to receive a scholarship as a freshman.

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First African-American recruited for basketball
1968

First basketball scholarship awarded to an African-American

Al Heartley becomes the first African-American to be awarded a basketball scholarship at NC State. He later became the first African-American captain of the team (1970-1971), and the first African-American to win the Alumni Athletics trophy (1971).

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First basketball scholarship awarded to an African-American
4/6/1968

Student reaction to Martin Luther King, Jr. assasination

On the weekend of King’s death approximately 200 white students and faculty (from UNC and Duke as well as NCSU) gathered in the Brickyard intending to march on the State Capitol Building in an attempt to speak with Governor Dan Moore. The ultimate goal of the march was to present a petition to the governor that "show[ed] the Negro community that concern exists among whites by presenting written grievances to the governor." However, the march did not go forward as planned. After the Raleigh Police Department stopped the group at Winston Hall, Chancellor Caldwell pled with protesters to disperse peacefully, saying, "I wept tears when Martin Luther King died; I loved that man. But you don’t have to demonstrate by breaking the law." With threats of arrest looming, and National Guard troops waiting at the Velvet Cloak Inn to intercept the march should it reach that point, the protesters dispersed as requested. The following Monday, a smaller group went to the Capitol and presented the petition to an aide to the governor, who promised that the governor would read it.

1969

First Black Studies classes offered

In fall 1969, NC State began offering Black Studies courses; these courses included black American literature, the Afro-American in America, black Americans in American politics, and black ideology. Previously, many students were going to Shaw University and St. Augustine’s College to take these classes.

1969

African American employees demand better pay

Sixteen African American Physical Plant employees visited the Chancellor’s office to request pay raises. The Physical Plant employees refused to leave the Chancellor’s office. All janitorial/housekeeping services in residence halls canceled as a result of financial pressure from protests for pay raises.

1969

First African-American Student Senate President

Eric Moore became the first African American Student Senate President.

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First African-American Student Senate President
1969

First African-American football scholarship recipient

Clyde Chesney becomes the first African-American to receive a football scholarship.

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First African-American football scholarship recipient
2/28/1969

Student rally

A group of students hold a rally to support better wages and working conditions for non-academic workers on campus. The protest is organized by the Society of Afro-American Culture and an offshoot of Students for a Democratic Society calling themselves "The Group."

4/1969

March to support African American employees

African American students and employees marched to the Chancellor’s house in opposition to the suspension of African American workers (the Physical Plant fired 4 female housekeepers for refusing to work in male dorms and several men were suspended for leaving work to meet with the Chancellor).

1970s

1970

First African American Miss NCSU

Mary Evelyn Porterfield elected first African American Miss NCSU. In an interview with the Technician following her selection as homecoming queen, Porterfield stated, "If I had been the first black homecoming queen ever at a university of this size, I think it would have weighed much more heavily on my emotions, but to me, by this time, it seems as ordinary as would have been any selection. I think State is three years behind in the trend . . . I realize that this is a victory for the blacks on campus, and particularly for the black female."

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First African American Miss NCSU
1970

NC State fails to comply with Civil Rights Act of 1964

The Health, Education and Welfare Department (HEW) informed the University of North Carolina schools that its institutions, including NC State, failed to comply with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

1970

First African-American recipients of full football scholarships

Willie Burden and Charley Young become the first African-Americans to receive football scholarships as incoming freshmen.

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First African-American recipients of full football scholarships
1970

First African American Cultural Center formed

Students form NC State's first African American Cultural Center, which was given space in the YMCA building.

1970

First African-American librarian

William V. Frazier is hired as the first African-American in a professional librarian position.

1971

Second African-American earns Ph.D.

Augustus M. Witherspoon becomes the second African American to earn a Ph.D. from NC State, and the first African American to receive a doctoral degree and go on to join the faculty (see 1979).

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Second African-American earns Ph.D.
1971

First African-American fraternity

Seven students found a local chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, making it NC State's first African-American fraternity.

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First African-American fraternity
1971

Increased equality

The Division of Student Affairs hires a black counselor, makes financial aid available to black students, and encourages black cultural programs.

1972

First African-American academic administrator

William Maxwell becomes an assistant dean, making him NC State's first African-American academic administrator.

1972

"In a Black Perspective" published

NC State publishes "In a Black Perspective." This pamphlet tallies the university's black community at nine professors and 222 students (out of a total 13,809), and lists courses focusing on black history and culture: two in Political Science and one on race relations in Sociology.

4/4/1972

Pan-Afrikan Festival

The second annual Pan-Afrikan Festival begins.

1973

First female African-American Ph.D. recipient

Nannette Smith Henderson becomes the first African-American woman to be awarded a Ph.D. at NC State, with a degree in Plant Pathology.

1973

First African-American All-American winner

David Thompson was named NC State's first African-American All-American winner in basketball. In 2012 he was inducted into the NC State Athletics Hall of Fame.

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First African-American All-American winner
1974

NC State hires Dr. Lawrence M. Clark

NC State hired Dr. Lawrence M. Clark as Associate Provost. Dr. Clark was the second African American to serve as a university administrator. In addition to serving as a professor of mathematics education, Dr. Clark coordinated all activities related to the university’s Affirmative Action Plan. Dr. Clark was instrumental in the founding of NC State’s African American Cultural Center, the Peer Mentor program, and the African American Symposium.

1974

Affirmative Action plan accepted

The university's affirmative action plan is informally accepted by HEW.

1974

New African American Cultural Center

In 1974, African American students called for a new cultural center. Student Body President Terry Carroll presented a “four point” request to Chancellor Caldwell, which included a request for the first floor of the Print Shop to be turned over to the Society of Afro-American Culture for an African American Cultural Center. Banks C. Talley, dean of student affairs, complied with this request.

1974

First Women's Basketball team

A Women's Basketball team is established for the first time. The team included two African American women, Gwen Jenkins and Cynthia Steele.

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First Women's Basketball team
1975

First African-American sorority

A chapter of Delta Sigma Theta is established, becoming the first African-American sorority chapter on campus.

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First African-American sorority
1978

First African-American football All-American

Ted Brown becomes the first African-American named an All-American in football. In 2012 he was inducted into the NC State Athletics Hall of Fame.

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First African-American football All-American
1978

First Brotherhood Dinner

Chancellor Joab Thomas held the first Brotherhood Dinner, honoring Samual Nesbritt. The dinner was institutionalized as an annual event under Chancellor Bruce Poulton in 1982.

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First Brotherhood Dinner

1980s

1987

Anti-Apartheid March

Student Government organized a march to protest NC State’s financial involvement in South Africa. The “anti-apartheid march” began outside the African American Cultural Center (West Dunn) and ended at the Memorial Tower. Approximately 75 students participated in the march.

1987-1988

Kevin Howell

Howell was the first African-American to serve as Student Body President. We was a political science major. After graduation, he eventually became the university's primary liaison with state and local governments.

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Kevin Howell
1988

African American Studies minor introduced

In fall 1988, NC State implemented an African-American Studies minor, the first of its kind at the university. The interdisciplinary minor required students to take courses in both history and English literature.

1988

African American student leaders hold meeting

Black student leaders gathered at the Student Center to discuss campus issues. The low graduation rate for black students, the lack of African American faculty members and athletic administrators, and the discriminatory discipline practices within the athletics department were problems cited by black leaders during this meeting.

1988

Students march against racism

Greeks United sponsored the March Against Racism-Challenging History (M.A.R.C.H.) to support change in the University’s policies towards African American Students. Students marched to Holladay Hall to present a petition to the Chancellor, which demanded immediate action. NC State’s first African American student body president, Kevin Howell (1987-1988), participated in the M.A.R.C.H.

1988

NC State recognizes Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

1988 marked the first year the University recognized Martin Luther King Day. University administrators initially announced the substitution of Easter Monday for MLK day, however students reacted negatively to this suggestion. Student Body president Kevin Howell introduced an open forum to hear student concerns about the spring calendar changes. Upon hearing support for both holidays, Howell pushed the administration to observe both Easter and MLK day. University leaders compromised by canceling classes on MLK Day and Good Friday and by holding classes on a Saturday.

1989

Position created for African-American Affairs

NC State creates the Associate Provost position in African-American Affairs.

1989

Harassment Policy Adopted

The Board of Trustees adopts a racial harassment policy.

1989

First College of Engineering female African-American faculty member

Christine Grant (Chemical Engineering) becomes the first African-American female faculty member appointed in the College of Engineering.

1990s

1990

Collection Management Department established

The Collection Management Department is established, with Margaret Hunt as its first head. Hunt had been one of the first African-American librarians hired during the 1970s.

2/1990

Brian Nixon attacked

Student Body President Brian Nixon was attacked by two or three people near his residence hall, North Hall. Prior to this attack, public safety provided Nixon with security. Nixon received racial death threats and intimidating calls and letters throughout his presidency. As student body president, Nixon implemented programs that encouraged students to practice ethical behavior and allowed students to meet with campus leaders in informal settings. Nixon accomplished many successful programs in spite of the personal racial threats he received while president. The violence escalated in February 1990 when Nixon was attacked in the early morning while walking to his residence hall. Nixon resigned as president in March 1990, one month prior to the end of his term. He cited personal reasons for his resignation and stated, "The pain and pressure has finally taken its toll physically, mentally, emotionally, and especially academically."

1991

African American Cultural Center opens

African American Cultural Center opened in the new Student Center Annex (later renamed Witherspoon Student Center). In 1992, following months of student and faculty protests, NCSU administrators granted the African American Cultural Center an operating budget.

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African American Cultural Center opens
1991

First African American male voted Leader of the Pack

Kedrick Lowery was elected Leader of the Pack (which had replaced the homecoming queen competition). Lowery was the first African American male to be honored with the title. Lowery was a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity.

1992

Sista 2 Sistuh Network established

The Sista 2 Sistuh Network is established to support African-American women at NC State.

1992

First African American Dean

James Anderson becomes the Dean of Undergraduate Studies, making him the first African-American dean.

11/30/1992

The Nubian Message began publication

The Nubian Message began publication in response to student protests alleging racial bias by the Technician. Tony Williamson served as the paper’s first editor-in-chief. The paper was first released in Talley Student Center. In the inaugural issue, Williamson stated his intention to "totally, truthfully, and faithfully cover every aspect of African American life at NCSU" and his hope that the Nubian Message would become "the media voice for African Americans at NC State; a publication where people can learn about different aspects of [African American] culture, as well as find useful information about State’s campus." Because the Nubian Message received no University funding and Nubian staff were prohibited from using NCSU media equipment, the first issue was published with help from North Carolina Central University. Recalling the paper’s initial struggles Williamson stated, "It was a real pain to have to go all the way to Durham to work, but the people at Central were very helpful and understanding. We owe them a lot. If it wasn’t for their newspaper staff, we probably would never have had a first issue." Following publication of the first issue, the University allowed the Nubian staff to utilize campus media equipment.

4/1/1995

Witherspoon Student Center dedicated

The building formerly known as the Student Center Annex was dedicated on this date to honor Dr. Augustus McIver Witherspoon. It thus became the first building on campus named after an African American. Dr. Witherspoon earned his Ph.D. in Botany from NCSU in 1971, making him the second African American student to receive a Ph.D. from NC State. He joined the faculty as Instructor of Botany and eventually held the following posts at NCSU: Full Professor, Assistant Dean, Acting Dean and Associate Dean of the Graduate School, Associate Provost and Coordinator of African-American Affairs.

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Witherspoon Student Center dedicated
1998

Chavonda Jacobs-Young awarded a Ph.D.

Chavonda Jacobs-Young was awarded a Ph.D. She had previously earned a Bachelors of Science degree (1989) and Masters of Science degree (1992). She was the first African American woman in the United States to earn a Ph.D. in paper science. She later became associate administrator for national programs for the USDA's Agricultural Research Service.

1998

Students rally in support of Affirmative Action

A crowd of approximately 500 students and faculty members rallied in Witherspoon in support of affirmative action. Students opposed UNC system President Molly Broad’s proposal to eliminate race based programs within the UNC system.

2000s

2000

Vice Provost for Diversity and African-American Affairs

University administration creates the position of Vice Provost for Diversity and African-American Affairs. One stated goal of this position is to improve the experience of black students and other minorities.

2002

African-American Student Advisory Council Report Cards

The African-American Student Advisory Council begins issuing report cards grading the university on enrollment, retention, and graduation of African-American students. The report card gave NCSU an F for recruiting black students.

2003

Yolanda King speaks on campus

Yolanda King, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s daughter, addressed students in Stewart Theatre as part of the NCSU MLK Commemoration. King urged a crowd of more than 500 to shake off apathy and tackle social problems such as poverty, hunger and intolerance.

10/2004

Students protest appropriations for African American clubs

African American students participated in a sit-in at a Student Senate meeting to express concern for the lack of funding for African American organizations. Out of $40,000 of appropriations, African American organizations received a mere $735. The Student Senate agreed to send the bill back to committee for re-evaluation.

8/25/2005

Student Chapter of NAACP re-forms

On August 25, 2005 NC State’s student chapter of the NAACP held its first meeting in four years. Gina Dean, the NAACP youth and college state director, provided students a brief overview of the NAACP’s history. An NC State NAACP chapter initiated in 1991, however participation in the organization declined until the chapter became inactive. Michael Boykin (later named chapter president) and the Omega Psi Phi fraternity aided in the rechartering of the NC State NAACP chapter in 1994. The NAACP chapter met for 7 years; in 2001, the chapter again became inactive.

2006-3/2011

First African American head basketball coach

Sidney Lowe served as the first African American head coach of the NCSU men’s basketball team. Lowe was the starting point guard for NC State’s 1983 basketball team, which won the national championship. From 1991 to 1993, Lowe served as an assistant coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Lowe later served as the head coach of the Timberwolves and the Memphis Grizzlies. In March 2011, Sidney Lowe resigned from his head coach position at NC State. In a statement to the Technician Lowe declared, "This is my school. I love this school. I poured my sweat for our years here and gave it my best. It was my hope and dream to come back here and do something special again."

2006

Office for Diversity and Inclusion moves to Winslow Hall

The Office for Diversity and Inclusion moved to Winslow Hall, following the completion of a new Alumni Association building on Centennial Campus in 2006.

11/5/2008

Racist graffiti directed at Obama

Freedom of Expression Tunnel: On November 5, 2008 racist, threatening graffiti, directed at (then) President-elect Barack Obama, was found in the tunnel. Because of the threats against Obama, the Secret Service was among those called to investigate. The four students responsible were identified and admitted to the act. The students issued an anonymous public apology. In response to the incident, which received international media attention, Chancellor Oblinger established the Campus Culture Task Force Committee to discuss methods of improving the campus climate and possible revisions for Student Conduct practices and Free Expression Tunnel procedures. Students also held a "Unity Rally" to denounce the acts of racism.

2010s

11/2010

Racial epithets painted in Freedom of Expression Tunnel

In November 2010, racial epithets were painted in the Freedom of Expression Tunnel. Students protested against the offensive images by blocking entrance to the tunnel. Chancellor Woodson released a statement which declared ". . . we must create an environment and an overall sense of global awareness on campus that encourages and embraces all forms of diversity."